The Arkansas Razorbacks seem to be on their way back to Omaha. Finishing off a sweep of #2 Mississippi State over the weekend, the pieces are finally coming together. Through 42 games, let’s take a look at the past four squads that made it to college baseball’s elite eight under Coach Dave Van Horn.
2019 record: 31-11 (12-6)
2018 record: 29-13 (10-8)
2015 record: 25-17 (9-9)
2012 record: 29-13 (9-9)
2009 record: 30-12 (12-6)
This team is on track to be another team that makes it to Omaha with more wins through 42 games than ANY of those teams in the past. However, I still have some questions.
The depth of the pitching staff worries me. The two guys I have full trust in are Isaiah Campbell and Matt Cronin. Outside of those hurlers, it’s a coin flip on the outcome of the pitching staff. Sure, Connor Noland pitched a marvelous game against a very tough opponent on Sunday, even earning him SEC freshman of the week honors. His past start was not as friendly as he faced five batters without getting an out in Nashville against the Commodores. Those are the types of games that can knock you out of the postseason in a heartbeat. Kole Ramage is supposedly one of Arkansas’ most reliable bullpen guys, yet he has a 4.93 ERA. Jacob Kostyshock is coming off an injury and is still working back to full stamina. Patrick Wicklander is a completely different pitcher when he starts compared to coming out of the bullpen. I am just a little wary of a deep postseason run with the staff we have.
On the offensive side, I have zero concern. Over the past seven games, the Razorbacks have scored 83 runs. That is just south of 12 runs per contest. Casey Martin and Heston Kjerstad are finding their stroke at the right time. Dominic Fletcher is (once again) crushing baseballs in conference play. Matt Goodheart leads the team with a .385 batting average and a .500 (!) on-base percentage. Seven of the nine starters have a batting average over .285. You won’t see that in other lineups around the country. Plus, this team is active on the base-paths. 54 bases have been stolen already, compared to just 39 in ALL of last year.
Tennessee comes to town this weekend with a identical record of 31-11 for a three game series beginning on Friday at 6:30. The Volunteers are 9-9 in conference and stand at #18 in the nation. For Arkansas to stay in first place in the SEC West, they MUST take 2/3 from the Vol’s. I think they will not only win the series, but I see another sweep on the horizon at Baum Stadium.