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Razorback Baseball: No Reason To Doubt

Florida v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Of course, I would forget to recap the Hogs winning their regular season championship on the site. There was so much excitement going on that we did capture it play by play on the Arkansas Fight Twitter account (@arkansasfight) though.

There’s nothing on social media like boasting about the Hogs with fellow fans, friends and other media members. Heck, this recent run for the Omahogs has been the most fun yet of any of the three seasons I’ve covered them.

I knew that Arkansas had a special team. Even though they lost key pieces in Heston Kjerstad and Casey Martin there were still plenty of pieces left to making a run and it shows.

Before the season, would we have believed that former starters Jacob Nesbit, Braydon Webb and Connor Noland would play reserve roles? Absolutely not. However, they have played their roles on this team to a T without thinking about themselves.

Head coach, Dave Van Horn has this team believing in themselves. They are not chasing individual awards, personal achievements or goals. Van Horn has these players looking at the big picture: making it back to Omaha and winning “the whole damn thing.”

Charlie Welch was a seldom used pinch hitter who has now become a bonafide weapon at his spot. Lately, he has been the best hitter on the team. Welch is boasting a batting average over .400.

Welch was the savior of Friday nights game versus Florida to clinch the SEC Regulsr season championship. He is has a hit on four of his previous five appearances which also includes three RBI’s.

If you look up and down this Razorback lineup one can see danger from any single batter that walks to the plate. Being an exceptional designated hitter and earning that role year after year, hitting 12 home runs at his spot, gives the Hogs a weapon. He doesn’t play a position but first base could be where he moves if current first baseman Brady Slavens decides to move on to the pros.

Casey Opitz had struggled throughout the season but has hit 6-13 his last four games with three runs scored. One of which included the winning run for the regular season SEC Championship.

Slavens, Christian Franklin and Kevin Kopps are all semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy that is given to the top college baseball player in the nation.
Kopps has been a nearly un-hitable pitcher in the country. He boasts an ERA of 0.78. Hog fans should expect to see him a couple of times during the regionals and super regionals. He will likely be used heavily if the Hogs make it to Omaha.

Where some fans of different teams think the Razorbacks weakness is pitching, there is no doubt they’ve been better over the last few weeks. Patrick Wicklander will get into some pickles during any given game but has proven he work his way out of it, too. Caden Monke, Zebulon Vermillion, Jaxon Wiggins and Ryan Costieu give Van Horn confidence that his pitching is peaking at the right time.
On Saturday, the Razorbacks found out that they do have a third quality left fielder of Zach Gregory or Webb can’t go. He made a few terrific catches but missed one on a diving attempt. Bates went 1-4 and scored on his hit in the seventh inning.

Defensively, Arkansas has been solid in the infield. Battles made an incredible 5-4-3 double play on Saturday after Monke replaced Jaxon Wiggins on Saturday. In relief against Tennessee, Nesbit showed he can still play in relief of Cullen Smith. He had a barehanded snag at third and rocketed the throw to first base for an out.

Athletic plays by Jalen Battles and Robert Moore bolster the inside positions of the infield. They have been nearly untouchable in 2021.

Arkansas is the obvious number one team in the country and right now not a single team can touch them. Honestly, there isn’t another team that is as deep at nearly every position either.

Van Horn has left no doubt. We know what Arkansas end goal is: winning the College World Series.