UA Athlete of the Week
Kenny Huff is the one UA outfielder that always seems left out.
The sophomore, who was a part of the same recruiting class as Ben Diggins and Shelley Duncan, had spent the past season and a half in relative obscurity - until Saturday.
"Shelley's the Tucson guy and Ben's (talented), so I knew that I wouldn't get too much attention," he said. "If I don't get press, I don't really care as much."
It came as a surprise that Huff would come out of left field - literally - to hit for the cycle Saturday against Washington State.
In accomplishing the feat, Huff became the first Wildcat ever to hit for the cycle in a conference game, which came as a surprise to the left fielder.
"Wow, that's nice," Huff said. "I didn't know that. You'd think that with all the players that have come through here, someone would have done it."
Huff tripled in the first inning, singled in the second, homered in the sixth inning, and doubled in the eighth to lead the Wildcats to a 21-3 victory against the Cougars.
His final hit, a double to the left-center field wall, drew the praise of UA head coach Jerry Stitt.
"He really hit the ball well in his last time up," he said. "That double off the wall was a shot. He's doing well."
According to Stitt, the fact that Huff had accomplished his feat against a Pacific 10 Conference opponent added to the difficulty of the task.
"Hitting for the cycle is unusual to begin with," Stitt said. "But doing it in conference just added to it. The pitching in our conference is usually pretty good. I guess we were just lucky to get Washington State on a day when (Cougar pitchers) were struggling to get the ball down."
Huff, who was taken in the 47th round of the 1998 Amateur Draft by the Toronto Blue Jays, spurned a scholarship from Arizona State to attend UA.
"I liked Coach Stitt a lot better than (ASU head coach Pat) Murphy," he said. "Stitt has more of my kind of personality."
Huff's on-field personality, described by some as "intense" or "mature," has become his calling card, but it shouldn't come as a surprise. Huff's older brother, Kevin, is a senior relief pitcher for the Wildcats. The elder Huff has had a history of arm problems and is rarely used on the mound.
"It's been nice to have Kevin around," Huff said. "He's had it rough. He's someone that I look to stay positive."
Stitt said Kevin Huff has been a good influence for his younger brother. In fact, the two moved in together just in time for the start of the season.
"He was pretty mature coming out of high school," Stitt said. "It's great for him to have Kevin, who is a pre-med guy. It's just great to have those two guys around." Kevin Huff's injury has forced his little brother to keep his career in perspective.
"I look at my situation," Huff said. "I've never been hurt and seem to play every day. He's happy with the way things have worked out for him, and so I'm happy with the way things have turned out for me."
Kevin Huff said his brother has learned from him off the field but believes that Kenny may be a better player between the lines.
"He's always been a really good player," Kevin Huff said. "I don't know how much I've helped him. Ever since we were little kids, he was a lot better than everybody. A lot of times, I learn from him."
Ryan Finley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.