After missing NCAA Regional play for the first time in his 14 seasons as Arkansas’ head coach last year, Dave Van Horn is eager for this season to start Friday.
The Hogs will have great weather for the weekend series against Miami of Ohio with highs in the 60s and mostly sunny skies. he first pitch is set for 3 p.m. Friday with games set to start at noon on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
“The weather is going to be good,” Van Horn said, “and it’s just going to be a good opportunity to get out and play someone else.”
The Redhawks are an experienced ballclub that is one of the favorites to win the Mid-American Conference.
‘They are a team with some experience that has a good bullpen,” Van Horn said. “That strength and experience is a big reason why they are projected to win their league.”
Sophomore Blain Knight is scheduled to start Friday.
“If all goes well, he’s conditioned to go 70 to 80 pitches,” Van Horn said. “We’ll have to see how he is doing. It depends on how the game goes. There’s 70 hard pitches if he’s throwing out of the stretch or has a couple of innings where he throws 25 or 26 pitches and there is an easy 70 pitches. We’ll play that by ear.”
The Razorbacks will be breaking in two new regulars at the corners this weekend with junior Chad Spanberger manning first base and junior Hunter Wilson at third. Wilson moved into the starting role at third when projected starting first baseman Jared Gates broke a bone in his hand that will sideline him for five weeks. The injury forced Spanberger to move from third to first base, and elevated Wilson to the starting spot at third.
Freshman Dominic Fletcher has nailed down the starting spot in center field with junior All-SEC preseason pick Luke Bonfield in left field. Van Horn said either sophomore Eric Cole or senior Jake Arledge would start in right field, but that both will play.
The first few series are going to be hugely important to us,” Van Horn. “We’re a work in progress like many teams are at this time of year. We’re still deciding on our pitching rotation and at some spots in the field.