Diamond Hogs Not Satisfied Being Near The Top

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas is near the top of the college baseball food chain with its highest preseason ranking in school history.

For that reason, this team seems even more hungry to reach Omaha, Neb., again -- that's the site of the College World Series -- and another shot at a national championship.

For the record, the Razorbacks were recently picked No. 4 by Collegiate Baseball, and probably for good reason.

In the past four years under Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn, Arkansas has played in four NCAA regional tournaments -- it hosted two -- and made one appearance in Omaha.

That subject was the central theme of conversation Tuesday afternoon during the annual baseball media day meeting in Baum Stadium.

"I was thinking we were going to be ranked 12th, 13th, 14 coming in, just because we have a lot of new players," Van Horn said. "I think that the way those rankings work ... we have scouts in our area, other coaches that know what we've got coming back, who we've recruited and they send in surveys or get phone calls or whatever the case may be, and all know and they all thought we were going to be pretty good, so that's how we ended up that high.

"I still think we have a lot of questions to answer, but we have a lot of options."

Many of those options include relying upon veterans like All-American pitcher Nick Schmidt, All-American infielder Danny Hamblin, and veteran outfielder Jake Dugger, a former freshman All-American, and catcher Brian Walker, holdovers from a 39-22 team.

Are there positives and negatives to this ranking equation?

"Positives? I don't know," Hamblin said. "If you are at No. 4, you're still trying to get to No. 1, no matter where you are at, whether you are No. 25 or what.

"It's just a pat on the back. You're still working to be the No. 1 team in the country."

That goal, too, is shared by Walker, a tri-captain -- Hamblin and Schmidt are the others -- with high volume of voice.

"That's a great number, but it doesn't mean a dang thing," Walker said. "No. 1 in June, at the end of June, is what we are looking for. Then, we'll know how good we were.

"Yeah, it's doesn't mean as much unless we're No. 1 at the end of year and we should be.

"Let's put it this way, if this team doesn't do something special, then we should have played soccer, or we should have done something else."

That, of course, for this hungry team, is good food for thought.

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