The 2022 Razorback baseball season has been quite the rollercoaster up to this point.
The Hogs began with high expectations from most college baseball junkies around the country but seemed to tread water through the conference season.
However, the Hogs got hot at the right time for a postseason resurgence. Now, Dave Van Horn and the Razorbacks find themselves in Omaha once again, and this squad has a real chance to bring the title home.
Many have tabbed this year’s College World Series field as the SEC West invitational. Regardless, each team traveling to Omaha has experienced a different journey this season. So let’s take a look at each team and their recent results.
Arkansas’ side of the bracket includes Stanford, Ole Miss, and Auburn. Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Notre Dame round out the opposing side of the field.
Stanford: The Cardinal visit Omaha as the highest-seeded team remaining. As the second seed, Stanford breezed through their regional before eliminating UConn in the decisive super-regional game on Monday. Arkansas and Stanford squared off during the season’s opening weekend at the Round-Rock Classic in Texas. Arkansas lost to the Cardinal 0-5 in a game that saw 10 Razorbacks go down on strikes.
Both Arkansas and Stanford are much different teams at this point in the season. Both squads are hot at the plate with deep bullpens, which should result in an exciting opening-round matchup. It is worth noting that Hagen Smith got the ball back in February against Stanford. As one of Arkansas’s strongest postseason pitchers, it will be interesting to see how Smith performs against the Cardinal if given the opportunity on Saturday.
The Cardinal come to Omaha slugging .311 as a team with seven players hitting .300 or better on the season. Additionally, their pitching staff has combined for a 4.00 ERA.
Ole Miss: The Rebels are perhaps the surprise team of the College World Series this year. Ole Miss had high expectations to begin the year but underperformed during the season. Now the Rebels are arguably streaking hotter than anyone else after their regional victory at Miami and the super regional sweep of Southern Miss. Arkansas won the series against Ole Miss back in late April.
Auburn: It probably did not hurt any feelings in Razorback country to see Auburn stick it to Oregon State in Corvallis last weekend. The Tiger offense is streaky but fully capable of showing off in Omaha. The Hogs took two of three from the Tigers in early May. Auburn will take on Ole Miss in the opening round.
Texas A&M: The Aggies are the highest-seeded team on the other side of the bracket. Texas A&M quietly had a fantastic season under first-year head coach Jim Schlossnagle. The Aggies and Razorbacks last played in late April. Two games in the series were decided by one run, but Texas A&M outlasted the Hogs.
Texas: We won’t spend too much time on Texas. The Longhorns are the ninth overall seed in the tournament and played an excellent season in the Big12. I’m sure many Hog fans would love to see a matchup with the Longhorns in the National Championship series. Texas opens against Notre Dame before inevitably squaring off against one of the school’s bitter rivals.
Oklahoma: The Sooners had quite the journey to Omaha. Oklahoma upset Florida in Gainesville in regional play before knocking off Virginia Tech. It will be interesting to see Sooner fans mixed in with Longhorn fans in Omaha.
Notre Dame: The Irish may very well be the fan favorite after whipping Tennesse in Knoxville last weekend. I don’t think it hurts anyone’s feelings to see Notre Dame in the spot many had reserved for the Volunteers. Man, what a shame...
As for the Razorbacks, I don’t think there is a perfect formula for Dave Van Horn’s squad coming into weekend play. The Diamond Hogs are clicking on all cylinders offensively and defensively and do not need significant shakeups. A pitching effort consistent with the Stillwater and Chapel Hill performances gives the Hogs as good of a chance to win as the other teams. I do think a surge at the plate from Robert Moore and Jalen Battles, matched with the hot streak from the rest of the lineup, can make the Hogs tough to beat. I feel confident in any DVH-coached squad in the postseason, so here’s to hoping the Razorbacks keep the magic going.
The Diamond Hogs being the last leg of their season on Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN.