Tide Coach Says Hogs Deserve Regional

HOOVER, Ala. -- Despite losing five straight, including both games in this week's Southeastern Conference Tournament, Arkansas still should be packing for an NCAA Regional next week.

The Razorbacks won't know until Monday what climate to pack for since that's when regional assignments will be announced on ESPN2 between 10:30-11 a.m.

At least two web sites predict the Hogs will be among 10 SEC teams playing in a regional, which would break the record of nine set last season.

Even after a 5-4 win against the Razorbacks on Thursday, Alabama coach Jim Wells didn't need any expert's forecast to see Arkansas deserves a regional.

"Anybody that plays in this league, just surviving it, they should be in a regional," said Wells, whose team lost the regular season series at home against the Hogs. "You look at Arkansas and they lose really their two best players (suspensions to seniors Casey Rowlett and Scott Bridges) and then (coach Dave Van Horn) lost his best guy out of the pen (senior Trey Holloway had elbow surgery) and it's just an amazing job.

"If he would have had all his guys together, they probably would have won the (SEC Western Division title). So to keep that team together and for them to get into the tournament is really good.

"Most of us couldn't afford to lose two or three of our best guys."

Van Horn agreed about the toughness of the SEC, but at the same time, figures his team's 24-1 record in nonconference games should help when it comes to who goes and who stays.

"People can see in this league that everybody is pretty equal," Van Horn said. "One team may be a little better on the mound, but the games are usually pretty close. That's why there are so many teams in our league that should have the opportunity to play in a regional because we just beat everybody up every weekend.

"It's a fun league to coach in. It's a tough league to coach in.

"I'm hoping we get an opportunity to play in a regional and get to represent the University of Arkansas and the Southeastern Conference well next weekend.

"I've talked to some people that feel like all eight (teams) that are here should get in and there maybe two more. So, who is to say (who will get in)?"

Tschepikow Returns
Freshman sparkplug Ben Tschepikow was back in the lineup as the designated hitter for the first time in five games since injuring his back and went 2-for-4 with a run and a walk.

"My back has been hurting me a little bit lately but it felt good to go out there and be productive," Tschepikow said. "Every time you're in the lineup, you want to do something productive so the (coaches) will want to put you in there again."

Van Horn said it was nice to have Tschepikow's athleticism back in the order and it probably doesn't hurt he's hitting .396 in 48 at-bats.

"I didn't know until we were taking batting practice over at the high school (early Thursday) that I was going to play him," Van Horn said. "He brings some speed to the lineup, a left-handed bat and he's going to be a good player."

Bummer Fans
A heated spat erupted during the seventh-inning stretch when an usher asked four vocal Alabama fans who were sitting behind the Hogs' third base dugout to see their ticket stubs.

Apparently, an LSU fan complained the guys were harassing umpires and when the usher learned they were in the wrong seats, they were asked to move. That prompted boos from the few hundred fans in the area and one Tide-clad lady vehemently screamed, "If you check their tickets, you better check everyone's here!"

The usher did a nice job of avoiding further confrontation by smiling at the angry lady while simply walking away.

Say What?
Shortly before giving Arkansas a heartfelt nod to get into a regional during a postgame press conference, Wells wheeled off a zinger when describing his emotions during the early stages of Thursday's game.

"It was like pulling teeth trying to get through that game," he said.

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