FAYETTEVILLE - Nearly flawless afield with just four errors in 50 games and leading the Arkansas Razorbacks in hitting batting .325 for all games and .321 for the Razorbacks’ 16 SEC games, sophomore shortstop Jax Biggers is one of 13 semifinalists considers for the Brooks Wallace Award to be presented by the College Baseball Foundation.
The Brooks Wallace Award is named for the late Brooks Wallace, a College Hall of Fame shortstop at Texas Tech who died of leukemia at 27.
For Arkansas, Biggers not only has been a pitcher’s best friend defensively at short but stunned batting like a second leadoff man as the 9-hole hitting leading the Razorbacks in hitting.
"He’s done unreal," Arkansas senior pitcher Dominic TaccolinI said. "I feel like he’s definitely hit a little bit better than I expected. I feel like he would have hit around .270, .280 but he’s definitely been a tough out at the bottom of the lineup. And he’s a grinder. He’s one of my roommates and every day he comes to the field two hours before. He works his butt off. He comes from two parents who are coaches ( Brian Biggers, Jax’s ’ father coached baseball at Lamar University and his mother (Christie coached basketball) so he definitely knows the game."
Arkansas senior outfielder Jake Arledge said he’s never played with a better shortstop.
"Biggers, he’s a stud," Arledge said. "He’s the best in my opinion in the SEC as a fielding shortstop. He’s awesome. He works hard. He doesn’t say much. He just goes out and goes about his business and just does it."
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn acknowledged the Missouri City, Texas native and transfer from Cisco (Texas) Junior College has provided even more than the coach bargained for.
"To come in and handle that position and play pretty much every day out there," Van Horn said. "And then on the other end, swing the bat and get a lot of big hits for us. Kept his average over .300 easy. And has done it throughout the season. It hasn’t been just non-conference, he’s done well in league play as well. Probably couldn’t have asked much more from him. He’s a baseball player and when you have talent and you show up every day and you’re into it, you’re gonna have a good season and that’s what he’s had."
Biggers gets to go near home again. The Razorbacks, 37-14 overall and in the hunt for the SEC West title with their 16-10 , two and a half games behind first-place LSU 18-9 and a half- game behind second-place Mississippi State, 17-10, with Texas A&M 15-12, fourth, finish their SEC regular season in a 3-game series Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Texas A&M.
Biggers expects "40 to 50" family and friends attending the games in College Station, Texas.
"It’s my home state, so a lot of my friends go to A&M," Biggers said. "They’ll be at the game. Family is closer to A&M. I just know it’s an SEC school. I’m ready to compete and play hard.
Presumably his family will be rooting for the Razorbacks but what about his friends?
"They’ll root for me, maybe?" Biggers said, smiling. "I’m sure they’re pulling for A&M to win, but I’m sure they’re rooting for me."
Senior right-hander Taccolini, from the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, Texas also easily drivable to College Station, likely will follow Trevor Stephan Thursday night, and Bryant’s Blaine Knight Friday night as Arkansas’ starter Saturday against A&M.
Shelved several weeks by forearm problems, Taccolini beat Vanderbilt, 7-1 with his 4 2-3 inning start that reliever Jake Reindl finished throwing the final 4 1-3 last Sunday at Baum Stadium.
Now off winning his last scheduled home game at Baum, Taccolini starts his regular-season finale near home.
Was he ever interested in pitching for the Aggies?
"Honestly I’m not really too big a fan of A&M," Taccolini said. "Growing up I kinda liked UT (University of Texas). I’ve never really understood the Aggie culture in general. That’s why I wanted to come here. But it’ll be good. It’ll be nice to be able to have more family there."