Arkansas Sophomore Returns To Lineup With Per

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas sophomore Clint Arnold never was in any danger of having his mug plastered on the side of a milk carton even though he's been missing in action of late.

And there was no reason for an Amber Alert, either.

Arnold showed up and showed out Sunday as No. 10 Arkansas beat Cal State-Northridge 8-6 in front of a Baum Stadium crowd of 6,215 to complete a three-game sweep.

"Oh, it's awesome to get back into the starting lineup," Arnold said. "I knew I just had to wait my turn because we have a lot of guys swinging the bat well."

Until Sunday, Arnold's batting average was sitting right at the Mendoza Line at an even .200 with plenty of room to improve.

He corrected that arithmetic by going 4-for-4, including two doubles, while driving in one run and scoring twice as a designated hitter.

In the process, he improved his batting average by .110 points, or near where it was after his freshman season (.317).

"I got a chance to get in there and finally relax," Arnold said. "I had some confidence and had a few knocks today.

"It felt good."

In Arnold's last start -- playing left field -- he went 0-for-3 in a 5-3 Arkansas win against Texas-Arlington in the Rainbow Tournament in Hawaii on March 3.

"I tried not to think about that," he said. "I kind of bounced back and got my confidence back. That was the biggest difference.

"I'm just glad I was able to help us win the game. You never know when you're going to start. When I found out, I was pumped."

Arnold, a 5-foot-9, 190 pounder from Grand Prairie, Texas, also reintroduced himself to his teammates, who knew he'd come around sooner or later.

Just ask Razorbacks shortstop Matt Willard.

"It's great to have him back," Willard said. "Arnie is a heckuva player, he had a great year last year. We're going to need everybody. He got his shot today and he had four hits, so you've got to congratulate Clint on that and keeping his head up.

"I'm happy for him."

So was Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn.

"He (Arnold) started 90 percent of our games last year," Van Horn said. "A lot of guys came on (this year) ... he didn't complain, he didn't pop off, he kept his mouth shut; he's a great teammate. He came in and got his job done. I was proud of him.

"I was happy for him.

"You know what? He might not start Friday night (in the Southeastern Conference opener at Florida). He went four-for-four today, but you know what? I'm not sure, yet.

"But it's good to know he's there."

Willard, who redshirted as a freshman last year, knows all about waiting to get a shot at playing. He, too, knows it's good to have people like Arnold on the team when opportunity knocks.

"Once you get your shot, you're got to get the job done," Willard said. "Arnie did that today. Like I've said before, we have a lot of depth on this team.

"Anyone is capable of stepping up."

Arkansas junior left fielder Jake Dugger agreed, but also knew Arnold would be equal to the task when given his chance again.

"He started out slow, but he's always been a good hitter," Dugger said. "He got a chance to get in there and play and he made the best of it.

"That's what you've got to do."




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