After what can only be described as an electric thrill ride of a regional in Stillwater last weekend, the Hogs are just a few days away from retaking the field. This time the Hogs travel to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to take on the Tar Heels in a super-regional with a trip to Omaha on the line. Here’s to hoping the Razorbacks stay red hot at the plate, paired with solid appearances from the bullpen guys.
Before the super-regional action begins, let’s take a closer look at the Tarheels and analyze some switch-ups Dave Van Horn and staff might explore for the series.
North Carolina finished the regular season in the fourth spot in the ACC Coastal division. Currently, the Tarheels sit at 42-20 on the season. Although the Heels finished in the middle of the pack in their conference, the team is hot. An ACC tournament championship propelled the Tarheels to the tenth seed in the NCAA tournament.
Last weekend, North Carolina welcomed Georgia, VCU, and Hofstra to Chapel Hill. VCU had the host team on the ropes before the Tarheels came back to eliminate the Rams twice. We know that the highest-powered regional was in Stillwater last weekend. However, the teams in Chapel Hill were tallying plenty of runs. North Carolina knocked in 50 runs on their own.
As a team, North Carolina is slugging .288 with an even 100 home runs and 400 runs batted in this season. Defensively, the Tarheels rank 24th in the country in ERA (4.16), one spot behind the Razorbacks (4.14). Like Arkansas, the Tarheels rely on a solid bullpen.
For the Razorbacks, the offense was not an issue during last weekend’s regional. Arkansas scored 44 runs on their way to clinching the highest-scoring regional in NCAA history. The Tarheels are in trouble if the Hogs maintain their offensive firepower in Chapel Hill this weekend.
However, it will be interesting to see how Dave Van Horn handles his pitching staff this weekend. The Hogs stuck with their usual rotation of weekend starters in Stillwater. Connor Noland submitted a strong performance on Friday, but Saturday and Sunday quickly turned into bullpen games. On Monday, Zack Morris performed well in his start before Hagan Smith reentered the regional to shut down the lethal Cowboy offense. After the game, Dave Van Horn left the door open to see Morris start again this weekend against North Carolina. After the strong performances from several pitchers out of the bullpen, it will be interesting to see if DVH changes his pitching strategy for the weekend.
Regardless of pitching preferences, all signs point to a slugfest in Chapel Hill. This Razorback squad is surging at the right time for a team that struggled late in the season. Just two more wins to Omaha. Go Hogs, GO!
How to watch:
Saturday, 10 AM - ESPN
Sunday, Noon - ESPN/ESPN2
Monday (If Necessary) - TBA