State of the Hogs: Improved Bats

It wasn't against SEC pitching, but Matt Reynolds and Jacob Morris give Hogs some production at the plate on opening day.

No one doubts that Arkansas pitching will hold up this season. The Razorbacks are deep, talented and experienced on the mount.

The question has been whether or not Arkansas can get some production at the plate. If an 11-5 victory over Villanova on opening day is any indication, the Hogs look good -- especially when you see what two key defenders did against the Wildcats.

Matt Reynolds went 3-for-3 and Jacob Morris had two hits in three trips, including a home run and a triple. They made big plays in the field, too. But that's never been the problem.

Can Reynolds and Morris hit? Against SEC competition, Matt Reynolds hit .204 last year. Jacob Morris hit just .118 in league games.

"I was down in the order, where I belong," Morris said. "I struggled last year. That was my number one goal, to improve at the plate."

Morris has all of the tools. He looks like an SEC wide receiver in center field. He can run down everything and he has the arm -- so much that the Hogs let him try pitching in the fall. He made a big play on a line drive early in the game to help DJ Baxendale settle down on the mound.

Reynolds was recruited to be the shortstop, but has been needed to anchor the infield at third base. But he's never hit like a corner infielder until this summer when he settled in at the plate with Team USA. He sparkled in the field against Villanova, bailing out Baxendale with a diving stop to end a big early threat.

"The defense came up big behind me," Baxendale said. "Those two plays really helped me. I know we can play defense. I was just trying to pitch to contact and let them play behind me. We had great defense throughout the game. Matt's catch ended one inning."

Reynolds said he's trying a different approach at the plate after figuring out his swing this summer.

"I'm trying to be aggressive," he said. "Last year I was passive. I want to be aggressive in the zone and try to get hits early in the count."

As far as his play at third base, Reynolds said, "I just got a good jump and tried to lay out. Luckily, I made the play."

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