Diamond Hogs Ranked Fourth

Collegiate Baseball tabs Arkansas as the No. 4 team in the country in its preseason poll.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn wasn't totally shocked, but was mildly surprised to hear his team was No. 4 in the Collegiate Baseball Top 25 preseason poll released Friday.

It's the highest preseason ranking in school history.

"I knew we were going to be ranked pretty high," Van Horn said. "I didn't know if it would be 15 or what it would be.

"I didn't know if we were going to be in the Top 5 or 10, but I felt like for sure they would put us in the Top 15 because word of mouth and how things went this fall here and the kids we recruited.

"I feel good about where they put us."

Arkansas went 39-22 in 2006 and was 18-12 in the Southeastern Conference. It, too, hosted the NCAA Fayetteville Regional which was won by Oral Roberts.

"I'm excited for our program and our players," Van Horn said. "We're looking forward to this season. With the experience we have coming back and new guys coming in we should make a run at the College World Series."

There is good reason for Van Horn to be optimistic. Arkansas returns six starters, including infielder Danny Hamblin, who hit 17 home runs in 2006, pitcher Nick Schmidt, the SEC's Pitcher of the Year after going 9-3 with 145 strikeouts and pitcher Shaun Seibert, who was 4-0 with a 2.79 earned run average.

"I see a lot of maturity in this team," Van Horn said. "Just the demeanor of our players and the toughness of our kids. Anything less than playing in the College World Series is going to be disappointing and that runs all the way from our coaches to our players.

"The way practice went this fall, they did a great job on and off the field. We did a great job in the classroom this fall. This fall was one of the best falls I've had as a coach.

"Guys played hard and came to play every day. Competition was there and then you throw in the talent and depth. You know, we've had more depth I've had in a long time, especially the position players.

"The pitching is better than it's been since I've been here at Arkansas. We still have some questions to answer on the mound. Overall, it seems like a well-rounded team with a good attitude."

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