Diamond Hogs Return To Action

RUSTON, La. -- Arkansas continues its season-opening road swing with a three-game series against Louisiana Tech beginning today at 6 p.m. in J.C. Love Field.

The Razorbacks (4-0) swept last weekend's games against Texas-Arlington and Dallas Baptist and are looking to build on that success in Louisiana before playing Minnesota in next weekend's home opener.

"We definitely need to win this series down there and we'd like to win them all," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "I think anything less than winning the series would be disappointing."

That attitude got the Hogs through a tough doubleheader Sunday against Texas-Arlington. They won the opener 2-1 and the nightcap 4-1 in 12 innings. In the second game, things looked grim when UTA loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth and the score tied at 1-all.

"What I like is they feel like they're going to win," Van Horn said. "Even the other day ... I don't think any of the returners thought we were going to lose. They knew there was a chance and they had to make a play, but they were up to that.

"The new guys get to sense that and see that and feel that and they start believing it."

Louisiana Tech coach Wade Simoneaux said he won't give his team, besides catchers and pitchers, a scouting report on Arkansas, a team which swept three games from the Bulldogs to open last season.

"We want to play the better teams in the country because it's going to help us win, lose or draw," Simoneaux said. "And we won't even share a scouting report with them because I don't want our young guys to be beat before the game even starts. I want us to concentrate on the things we have to do to become a good ballclub and force Arkansas to defend what we do.

"That gives us a chance."

The Bulldogs' numbers are deceiving as they own a subpar .225 batting average as a team. They're 3-3 after sweeping McNeese State (coming from behind to win all three) to open the season and losing three games at Louisiana-Lafayette when nearly half of the team caught the flu last weekend.

"We were missing seven guys that whole weekend that would have played," Simoneaux said. "I had five true freshman in our lineup on Saturday when we played a doubleheader and on top of that, Lafayette is a very good, veteran ballclub. But we were kind of short-handed there and didn't really get a chance to solidify our lineup and I was hoping to have that done by this weekend."

Freshman left-hander Nick Schimdt will start today's game against Louisiana Tech right-hander Clayton Meyer (1-1, 4.50), who pitched well but lost 2-0 to Arkansas in last season's opener.

"He's got a good head on his shoulders," Simoneaux said. "Not a big-time draft choice, but he's a good college pitcher who'll give you the chance to win every time out."

Schmidt allowed three hits in five scoreless innings to win his collegiate debut, an 8-1 victory against Dallas Baptist.

"Since Nick Schimdt did a nice job, we feel like he's got his first game under his belt and his confidence level is up and those first-game jitters are gone," Van Horn said.

That returns staff veteran Charley Boyce to his usual spot of starting on Saturday after he started the season opener against Dallas Baptist and gave up two earned runs on six his in 5 2/3 innings. Sunday's starter will depend on who doesn't pitch in the first two games.

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