OSU A Good Measuring Stick For Hogs

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas commited nine errors while sweeping all three games from Illinois-Chicago last weekend and at least a couple of the mistakes were blamed on Oklahoma State.

Perhaps looking ahead, the No. 18 Razorbacks (12-1) didn't appear focused during the series against the winless Flames. But the Hogs will need complete concentration when they battle the Cowboys in Allie P. Reynolds Stadium at 4 p.m. today.

"We know we didn't play great this weekend," said Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "I just think our guys were really looking forward to playing a (big) named team like Oklahoma State."

And for good reason. The Cowboys (11-5) completed a road sweep Sunday against Louisiana Tech, the only team to beat the Hogs this season.

"We need to go play a good team like that on the road," said Arkansas outfielder Jake Dugger, who homered in Sunday's 9-2 win against UIC. "You have to battle some bad elements, like being on the bus or bad calls or whatever. And I'm sure they have good fan support, so it's good to get a road game like this before we go to South Carolina (for the Southeastern Conference opener March 18-20)."

After losing 10-2 to Dallas Baptist at home on Feb. 21, the Cowboys have won seven of their last nine. Second-year coach Frank Anderson said his team has more depth than when it finished fourth in the Big 12, but won the conference tournament last season. The chief task now is developing consistency in a group that consists of 20-plus newcomers, mostly from junior colleges.

"With all our new guys, we can get beat by anybody or beat anybody," Anderson said. "We're playing pretty good and are swinging the bats better, but we need to continue to try to clean things up because we're still making too many mental errors.

"I think that comes from having so many guys that haven't played at the Division I level."

Arkansas will start left-hander James Gilbert (2-0, 1.88) while Anderson hopes left-hander Brae Wright (3-0, 2.16) can pitch for the Cowboys. Wright, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound junior, banged up his shins during the team's bus ride back from Ruston, La.

"We were going to pitch Brae Wright, but I don't know now for sure now," Anderson said. "He hurt himself, believe it or not, getting on the bus and it was a freak thing. He jumped the curb to jump on the bus and when he did, he stepped in some mud and slipped and rammed his shins into the side of the bus.

"He actually ended up under the bus."

If Wright can't go, Anderson jokingly said he might have to find a spectator to pitch as he's running short on available arms. Whoever throws, Anderson will be sure to clue him in on what to expect from a Van Horn-led team.

"We know he's going to be aggressive and he's going to put runners in motion," said Anderson, the pitching coach at Texas when Van Horn coached at Nebraska. "They're going to be just typical of him, a hard-nosed group. He does a good job of coaching, obviously."

The Cowboys are the first opponent from a major conference the Razorbacks have faced and a win would boost either team's power ratings.

"We've already been talking about it," Van Horn said. "It's two teams that have pretty good baseball tradition that recruit the same area. It's definitely a game we want to win.

"We want to win them all, but whenever you're playing a Big 12 school or a big conference school, you want to get after them."

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