Hogs Pitcher Makes Impressive Debut

ARLINGTON, Texas --Arkansas freshman left-hander Nick Schmidt clearly didn't suffer from stage fright in his college debut Saturday.

There were no panic attacks, wobbling knees or battles with butterflies as he auditioned for a possible regular spot in the starting rotation.

He was as unsinkable as Miss Molly Brown during his team's rain-shortened 8-1 win against Dallas Baptist in Clay Gould Ballpark on the campus of Texas-Arlington.

"Oh man, everybody was impressed with him today," said Razorbacks senior utility man Scott Bridges. "We were looking for him to come out and give us a good start.

"He gave us more than we expected."

Amen, brother.

Schmidt threw 5 strong innings, allowed 3 hits, walked 2 and struck out 6 while throwing 73 pitches.

Oh, and picked off a runner at first base.

Not bad for a rookie.

"If he keeps that up all year," said Arkansas second baseman Casey Rowlett, "Well ... if he does, we may have found somebody right there."

Schmidt, a 6-foot-4, 220 pounder from High Ridge, Mo., took inventory of all his pitches -- he knew he was on an 80-85 pitch count before the game -- and realized he had the right stuff Saturday.

On the first pitch of his college career, Schmidt got Cody Montgomery to ground to third.

Omen?

"Well, I was just ready," Schmidt said. "I could tell I was ready when I was throwing in the bullpen. I kind of felt like I could get the job done before I went out on the mound.

"I was pumped up."

But he said he had a lot of help.

"(Arkansas catcher) Clint (Arnold) did a good job of handling me," Schmidt said. "Also (junior Arkansas right-hander) Charley Boyce told me what to expect and worked with me a lot. He told me to just go out and not get nervous and just take care of my business.

"I wanted to have a good start because it was my first start as a Razorback. That meant a lot to me."

"Charley and Clint were big factors."

And so was Schmidt.

"He's been really effective," Arnold said. "He was pretty impressive in our intrasquad games. His ball moves a lot, he throws hard. Early on, I knew he was going to be tough today.

"It was a pleasure to catch him today."

And to tutor him.

Just ask Razorbacks pitching coach Dave Jorn.

"Nick has just made a lot of improvements since the fall," Jorn said. "You know, sometimes freshmen get a little intimidated, a little unsure on what's going to happen when they come in and face guys a little older, better competition.

"He just doesn't seem to have any of that in him."

Arkansas players could see that, too.

"He was raring back and throwing it," Rowlett said. "He didn't look nervous at all. You like to see that in a freshman.

"That gave us a lot of encouragement as infielders. I think that makes the defense play harder."

Schmidt left the game after the fifth inning and Justin White finished the final two innings before the game was called.

And he definitely left an impression.

"He's got a great pitcher's body," said Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn. "He's a big, tall lefty, throws down hill, hard to see. He's got a good change-up and that curve ball ... he got the left-handers out a little bit today.

"When he puts it all together, he's going to be pretty good."

Amen, brother




Hawgs Daily Top Stories