After essentially a lost season for most non-professional baseball teams in 2020 – and a very lost season for him individually – former Arab baseball standout Drew Hudson has bounced back in a huge way for the University of North Alabama this year.
The last week, in fact, may have been his best stretch as a college player: 8-of-18 with three doubles.
For the season, Hudson has started 18 games, all at third base, and in recent days has settled in as the leadoff hitter (he’s led off the last eight games).
He is hitting .271 with a team-leading seven doubles. He also has a triple and a home run with 10 runs scored, six stolen bases and four RBIs.
That’s a far cry from his output in 2019 but not far off the promise he showed his freshman season in 2019, when he played in 41 games with 30 starts – 24 at second base, one at shortstop and five as designated hitter.
He hit .239 (21-of-88) with 15 runs scored, seven doubles, nine RBIs and was 8-of-9 on stolen base attempts. He had five multiple-hit games and reached base safely in the last six games of the season and carried that streak into 2020.
That streak lasted all of two at-bats last season. Hitting lead-off, Hudson pulled a groin on his second at-bat of the season. He missed eight games and admittedly struggled when he returned.
Then, the pandemic ended the season just after the final game on March 10. In all, UNA played 16 games.
“It was just a lost year for me, to be honest,” he said.
This year clearly has been different. On March 21, he led off the game at Bellarmine with a home run. On March 24, UNA played at Mississippi State and he went 3-for-5 with a double.
Then this past weekend, UNA swept Lipscomb – the team’s first sweep as a member of Div. I.
Hudson went 5-for-13 with two doubles.
Hudson is looking forward to the rest of the season, when UNA will face such teams as Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn and Vanderbilt.
“I’m playing a lot better and things are going much better,” he said.
He’s also looking forward to next year, his senior season. He’ll be playing with his younger brother Will, who’s redshirting this season. It’ll also be the final transitional year for UNA into Div. I. After next season, UNA can qualify for the NCAA Tournament.
“We can play in our conference tournament (ASUN), but even if we win it, we can’t make the NCAA Tournament,” Hudson said.
There is a chance Hudson could play in an NCAA Tournament. Because of the pandemic, athletes have been granted an extra year of eligibility. Next year, Hudson will be a senior academically – he’s on pace to graduate on time – but he’ll be what he calls a “Covid junior” athletically.
Hudson said he’s not sure he’ll stick around for a fifth year.
“It’ll all depend on scholarship money, what my coaches think is best, whether I’m in an internship or have a job opportunity,” he said. “I just don’t know right now.”