It'll be Jalen Beeks, Chris Oliver, Trey Killian and Alex Phillips as the starting rotation as Arkansas faces the first of back-to-back, four-game weekends. Head coach Dave Van Horn said Wednesday that's the plan for the pitching.
Arkansas faces South Alabama in a three-game set starting Friday. First pitch in the series opener is at 3:05 p.m. The Hogs and Jaguars meet at 12:05 on Saturday and 1:05 on Sunday. Indiana Poly Fort Wayne visits the Hogs at 3:05 p.m. Monday.
Beeks and Oliver have been the starters in the opening two games in each of the first two series with good results. Phillips has struggled in his two Sunday starts. Killian has been suspended the first six games for an NCAA violation dating back to his sophomore year in high school.
Phillips sparkled in a scrimmage outing Tuesday with a little jump in velocity prompting Van Horn to give him his third start.
"He was about three (mph) harder," Van Horn said. "I know he was frustrated by how it went the first two times. He threw very well. Maybe he just said, 'To heck with it.' He did well in our scrimmage. I know it's just a scrimmage, but we are going to put him out there a third time."
Van Horn said Killian "is hungry to get back out there." Killian was a starter at times last year and pitched well in summer baseball.
"He's going to be limited, 50 or 60 pitch count," Van Horn said. "He's a guy who has been in the rotation and has experience."
South Alabama (3-4) has struggled to score runs, but has pitched well. The Jaguars were Sun Belt Conference champs last year, but had heavy losses to graduation.
The Hogs have found ways to find some offense, often times by the walk or hit batsman. The Hogs have worked 27 walks, 19 hit batsman in a 6-0 start. South Alabama pitching, under former South Carolina pitching coach Mark Calvi, has issued 29 walks and only two hit batsman.
Brian Anderson has led the Hogs at the plate with a .458 average. Van Horn said he's a "stronger and better hitter" this year. Anderson is converting to second base. He's made some errors, but Van Horn likes what he's seen on defense.
"He's made some great plays," Van Horn said. "He dropped one double play ball, but he's made a big-league play up the middle. He's hitting line drives at the plate."
The Hogs should have Krisjohn Wilkerson, a 6-2, 220-pound juco transfer, in the lineup. He missed last weekend's series with a sore hamstring.
"He's ready to go," Van Hon said. "He hit the ball well yesterday. We'll put him back in the lineup. He makes us more physical. He can go up the gap with it.
"He knows the strike zone. He's calm at the plate. He gives us good at bats. Some of our younger guys seem to go out of the zone more than he does."
Colin Poche's pitch count might jump to 50 this weekend after the lefty threw 31 against Eastern Illinois. Poche is battling back from a sore arm, but has had no trouble so far in two outings.
"He's going to probably go 40 to 50 with a max of 50," Van Horn said. "He's done well so far.
"Poche could be in the rotation at some point and that would allow Beeks to close. That would put another plus lefty out there. That could move Killian to the bullpen. Really, we have several with the mentality to close -- Beeks, Killian and Oliver. We'd like to have our rotation set before we get to Florida (on March 14), but it could still move a little bit."
The Hogs were battling cold weather -- with temperatures at 24 in early afternoon -- to get on the field Wednesday for practice. Van Horn looked lovingly at the development across from Baum Stadium as the new indoor facility continues to progress. He's hopeful the Hogs have it in May.
"The day it's ready, we'll be in there," Van Horn said. "There is so many ways it will helps us. For instance, when we play at Vanderbilt (in 2015), they will have the same surface, so we'd be able to prepare. We can do two things at once even on a nice weather day, get so much more done."
Killian Set to Pitch Sunday
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