Arkansas slot­ted 7th by D1 Base­ball

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - Spe­cial to The Saline Courier

FAYETTEVIL­LE — Arkansas base­ball has been placed at No. 7 in D1 Base­ball’s pre­sea­son rank­ings, mak­ing it three top10 marks so far head­ing into the 2020 cam­paign.

It marks the sec­ond time in three years the Ra­zor­backs have re­ceived a top-10 rank­ing from the out­let, be­gin­ning the 2018 sea­son in fourth. Last year, D1 Base­ball put Arkansas at 16th in its first poll.

The Ra­zor­backs are com­ing off a 46-20 sea­son that pro­duced an SEC

West di­vi­sion ti­tle and the pro­gram’s 10th trip to the Col­lege World Se­ries in 2019. Head Coach Dave Van Horn, en­ter­ing his

18th sea­son at the helm of the base­ball team, has more ap­pear­ances in the CWS than any ac­tive coach in the na­tion with eight.

Arkansas re­turns a num­ber of vet­er­ans with ex­pe­ri­ence on the mound, in­clud­ing two thirds of last year’s ro­ta­tion in sopho­mores Con­nor Noland and Pa­trick Wick­lan­der. Noland and Wick­lan­der were among the top fresh­men arms in the con­fer­ence in 2019, as the duo

com­bined for a 4.16 ERA, nine wins, 145 strike­outs and only 51 walks. Noland was named a Per­fect

Game Fresh­man Al­lamer­i­can, while both gar­nered SEC All-fresh­man hon­ors.

Of­fen­sively, the Ra­zor­backs re­turn plenty of fire­power, in­clud­ing last year’s top hit­ter in Matt Good­heart, who fin­ished with a .345 bat­ting av­er­age as the team’s des­ig­nated hit­ter. Along with Good­heart, the Hogs bring back two of the top bats in the na­tion in ju­niors and pre­sea­son All-amer­i­cans He­ston Kjer­stad and

Casey Martin. Kjer­stad hit .325 or higher in each of his first two sea­sons, match­ing his hit to­tal (87) from 2018, while driv­ing in an­other 51 RBIS to go with 17 home runs. As for Martin, he hit more home runs (15) and had more RBIS (57) than his fresh­man sea­son, fin­ish­ing with 81 hits over­all last sea­son.

Arkansas is set to host 32 games at Baum-walker Sta­dium this spring, in­clud­ing home SEC se­ries against Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M, Auburn and Ge­or­gia. Dur­ing the 2019 post­sea­son run, Arkansas saw 93,868 fans pack Baumwalker Sta­dium, the most of any ball­park in the coun­try. The Ra­zor­backs wrapped up the 2019 sea­son with a 33-7 home record, the sec­ond straight year Arkansas has to­taled 30 or more wins at home.

The 2020 slate kicks off with East­ern Illi­nois for the sec­ond straight sea­son, be­gin­ning on Fri­day, Feb. 14, at 3 p.m. at Baum-walker Sta­dium.

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