Diamond Hogs Picked Third In West

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas was picked to finish third in the Southeastern Conference Western Division by the website SEBaseball.com on Monday.

Razorbacks third-year head coach Dave Van Horn said the preseason prediction was accurate despite his team's winning the Western Division and earning a share of the SEC's overall title on its was to an appearance in the College World Series last season and a 45-24 record.

"I'm fine with where they picked us," Van Horn said. "I think that's probably a good place to get us started and we'll go from there."

The Hogs were picked behind LSU and Ole Miss in the Western Division -- two teams picked higher than the Hogs in several preseason polls.

In the Eastern Division, South Carolina and Georgia are predicted to finish No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, with the Gamecocks being picked to win the SEC outright title.

"Ole Miss has a great teamreturning and so does LSU and so does Mississippi State," Van Horn said. "Then, you go over to the other side of the league and there's Georgia with everybody back on the mound and they only lost a couple of position players, so (Bulldogs coach David Perno) feels better about this year's team than he did last year's team (which reached the College World Series). And there's South Carolina who has a couple of their seniors back, plus a lot of kids returning, so they're pretty excited about what they have as well."

Arkansas lost two of its top three pitchers in Jay Sawatski and Clint Brannon and also lost key offensive cogs in first baseman Haas Pratt and catcher Brady Toops. In addition, nearly two-thirds of the Razorbacks' roster this season is made up of newcomers.

"If you look at starting pitching back and returning players and all-Americans, it adds up," Van Horn said. "They're also looking at returning all-conference players and statistics from last year, so they're basically looking at stuff that's on paper and I can see exactly why they picked us why they did.

"Getting picked (high) just takes players returning that have big numbers and we won last year with guys that didn't put up big numbers and that's what people are seeing in us right now."

The web site also announced its preseason All-SEC teams on Monday and three Razorbacks were recognized. Sophomore first baseman Danny Hamblin and junior pitcher Charley Boyce were named to the second team while senior shortstop Scott Hode earned a spot on the third team.

The Razorbacks have yet to crack the top 25 in several national preseason polls, but came in at No. 26 by Baseball America and No. 33 by Collegiate Baseball.

"Preseason rankings are based entirely on what teams did last year and what they have coming back," Van Horn said. "We surprised a lot of people last year, but I don't think we will sneak up on anybody this season as defending Southeastern Conference champions.

"We proved last year that it's not where you start in the rankings, just where you end up."

Arkansas returns to practice Monday and opens the season Feb. 11-13 in a four-game round-robin against Dallas Baptist and Texas-Arlington in Arlington, Texas.

Hawgs Daily Top Stories