Northwoods League: Dozier, Allday taking the Southland north
In the Southland Conference this spring, two names showed up on the offensive leaderboards over and over again: Stephen F. Austin shortstop Hunter Dozier and Central Arkansas outfielder Forrestt Allday.
Two weeks after conference play ended, they are Willmar Stingers teammates.
Allday said that facing Dozier's team during the spring was like playing against a friend.
"You want to beat them, yeah, but you don't hate the guy," Allday said. "Now we're on the same team and (Dozier) is a good player. It's good to have him on our team."
Stingers' manager Matt Hollod said he came across Dozier through a contact at Stephen F. Austin, a school that has also provided the Stingers with former players such as Jason West and Jarid Scarafiotti.
"Any time (a contact) suggests someone and you take him and they're good, you're going to go back to the well," Hollod said. "Dozier just looking at his numbers had a great spring. He's supposed to be a really high draft pick next year. I think we got a special one with him."
Dozier, who is batting .480 with a home run and 10 RBIs through seven games for the Stingers, broke out in his sophomore season for the Lumberjacks, being named First-Team All-Conference in the Southland Conference.
He led the circuit in doubles (22), slugging percentage (.595) and total bases (135). He was second in home runs (10), fifth in hits (81) and fifth in batting average (.357) while cracking the top 10 in runs, on-base percentage and walks.
"As a team we didn't have the best year but I had a pretty good year," Dozier said of the SFA team that finished 16-17 in the Southland. "I just worked hard all year and played my hardest."
Dozier, who signed with the Stingers in December, said he learned in the spring that Allday had also signed.
"Halfway through the college season I found out and I started talking to him when we would play (Central Arkansas)," Dozier said.
SFA and Central Arkansas finished the season tied for sixth place in the Southland with identical 16-17 conference records. SFA eventually eliminated Central Arkansas from the conference tournament on May 24.
Allday recalled a series against Stephen F. Austin on May 11-13.
"The first game, Dozier just killed us," he said of Dozier's 3-for-4 performance in the game. "Our coach was like 'don't let this guy beat us.' In the conference tournament they beat us, and of course Dozier hits a home run."
The Lumberjacks eventually lost to Southeastern Louisiana in the conference semifinals.
Allday had a nice season of his own, his first with a Division I program after transferring from Alvin (Texas) Community College.
He led the Southland with 57 walks, which was also good enough for fourth in the nation. The walks helped him to also lead the conference with a .486 on-base percentage, and he was named to Second-Team All-Conference in the Southland.
Allday is batting .289 for the Stingers and is, of course, leading the team with 12 walks.
Hollod said he doesn't think Allday has shown everything he can do yet.
"He doesn't strikeout very much and he's a really tough out, a very solid baseball player all around," Hollod said. "He has a really good eye but he's also good at fouling pitches off and keeping the count going."
Allday said his approach at the plate depends where he's hitting in the lineup.
"If I'm hitting leadoff, I'm going to get up there and I'm going to see a lot of pitches," he said. "Usually I just try to drive it gap-to-gap, up the middle, the other way, wherever they pitch it, really."
Dozier was impressed with his new teammate.
"(Allday) is a great player," he said. "One of the best two-strike hitters I've ever seen. Great hitter, great approach."