FAYETTEVILLE – Joe Serrano catches almost as much guff from his teammates as Andrew Benintendi. "Benny," as he goes, is regularly ribbed as the one surrounded by media, always asked what it’s like to set some kind of record, be up for some kind of award.

FAYETTEVILLE – Joe Serrano catches almost as much guff from his teammates as Andrew Benintendi. "Benny," as he goes, is regularly ribbed as the one surrounded by media, always asked what it’s like to set some kind of record, be up for some kind of award.


Serrano’s been the face of attention before, but it was a long time ago. Now, as the only senior regular in the Arkansas lineup he gets the "old man" jabs.


But it was three years ago, he was the one flocked by reporters with microphones and tape recorders. He was a freshman sensation from Arizona, leading the Diamond Hogs to the College World Series thanks to a .444 batting average and 12 hits in June.


He was the only one still on the Arkansas roster to play in Omaha that year. He was the only one, actually, to even play in a Super Regional.


So, yeah, he’s catching some flak this week as elder statesman.


"That’s a daily grind right there. People come after me. I’ve had a couple little nit-pick injuries here and there and they’re like ‘you’re getting old.’ It’s more fun and games than it is hurtful. I guess I’m the old guy."


He’s spry, then, and with a plenty-sharp memory. Serrano recalled the similarities between his freshman season and this one. And it’s not just the depth of the postseason run. In 2012 an expected-good Razorbacks team started hot, looked bad in early SEC play then turned it on for a late run. It was such a good late run, in fact, Arkansas went all the way to the College World Series. With a pup named Joe Serrano in the leftfield.


His coach remembers it well.


"He was in and out of the lineup, but he started at the end of his freshman ear and we went all the way through the Rice Regional and the Waco Super Regional all the way to Omaha with him playing leftfield," Dave Van Horn said. "He has a lot of experience and I think he’s been really clutch for us this year."


Clutch, consistent and a team player.


Serrano’s practically a three-and-a-half-year starter. He’s never hit below .280. He’s second all-time in school history for sacrifice hits. He moved from second base his freshman year just a few months after being drafted at that position in the 12th round of the MLB Draft. He could have been a jerk about it and declined a move. That wouldn’t have been an all together unheard of story. Instead, he said "sure," and proceeded to be the team’s best hitter during the most important part of the year and the new position stuck.


Unfortunately – though it remains to be seen – it may have also hurt his professional chances. Serrano isn’t the most power-hitting outfielder in baseball. His bat fits better at second base. Per rules if a player declines to turn professional after his senior season of high school, he must wait until after his junior year or when he turns 21. That was last year for Serrano. He went undrafted. Benintendi, Serrano’s centerfielder, is likely a top 10 pick in a couple weeks.


But Serrano’s not that same person he was at 18, just arriving from Tucson, Arizona. Of course he wants to play professionally – who doesn’t, he says – but there’s a sense of satisfaction knowing, with age, his career is one college baseball programs are built on.


"When you’re in the moment you think the past seems forever ago," he said. "But when you stop to think about it, it honestly did fly by. It’s like I was a freshman almost yesterday. Now I’m a senior, I’ve graduated and this could potentially be my last games as a Razorback.


Arkansas hosts Missouri State in the Super Regionals this weekend at Baum Stadium. Serrano will be there, leading off, playing leftfield, waiting for his chance to glow like he did in the round before. There was no one Van Horn wanted at the plate more last weekend against St. John’s, ninth inning and the game tied; Super Regionals on the line.


"I just felt like Serrano wanted it, man," Van Horn said. "(Seniors) usually run your team in that locker room and they lead you on the field. Sometimes verbally, most of the time just through confidence. Those are the guys who can get you down the road a little bit and it’s nice to keep some."