How senior Haden Roark has become a successful leadoff hitter for Van Buren baseball

George "Clay" Mitchell
Press Argus-Courier

Extra time in the batting cage is paying off for Haden Roark.

The Van Buren centerfielder would show up to practice early or will spend up to an hour after practice to work on his hitting.

"Honestly, I think it's the volume of work he's put into this. I told the team at the start of the year, 'Haden is going to hit,' " coach Luke Weatherford said. "He just kept after it and kept after it. He was working too hard and putting too much work into it. I knew it was going to happen for him."

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Roark has 11 games where he's collected two or more hits in the last 17 he has played. The senior was 3 for 3 in a conference game against Greenwood and hit 4 for 4 against Alma on April 13.

"It's just a lot of work inside. I focused on it more this year because I wanted my senior year to be special," Roark said. "I didn't spend much time doing the extra work during my junior year before COVID hit and I didn't do very well." 

Roark is hitting .432 with 32 hits in 74 at-bats. He's also scored 19 runs and has 14 RBIs this season.

"Going into the year, with him being a senior we knew he would be one of our guys, one of our starters," Weatherford said. "We weren't really sure who was going to hit leadoff. We kind of hoped he would be our guy because we knew what he was capable of. Once we got him up there, he's done a very good job."

Roark is one of the quiet leaders for the team as well. 

"He's not a rah-rah guy or getting after someone. At the same time, he's very consistent," Weatherford said. "He shows up on time. He's always where he needs to be when he needs to be there. Not everybody is a vocal leader. That's just not his personality. He does a good job being who he is and being consistent."

The Pointers (8-2 5A West) have two conference doubleheaders remaining. Van Buren split a doubleheader with Greenwood and Russellville for its only conference losses.

"We'll have a chance to win the league," Weatherford said. "We just need to go out and win first place and whatever happens, happen and we'll decide how to approach it."