When Arkansas' baseball team heads to Troy, Ala., for a three-game series beginning today, all eyes and ears will be fixed on Riddle-Pace Field as the hometown Troy Trojans host the Diamond Hogs.
Much like last week's series with Louisiana Tech, the No. 6 Razorbacks are expected to attract a big crowd, and some are even calling this series the biggest in Troy baseball history.
To Arkansas, that's perfectly fine.
"When we come into town, usually wherever we go, they want to beat us," Razorbacks junior catcher Brian Walker said. "We take pride in that because that means they respect us, but then again they're gunning for us.
"They're going to play above their heads trying to beat us and that's exciting, so we've got to play flawless baseball. But if we do that, everything should take care of itself."
Arkansas (2-1) knew Louisiana Tech was out to take down the big boys last week. And they did just that with a convincing, 9-2 win on Saturday. But the Diamond Hogs feel like much of their subpar play against the Bulldogs was due to listening to too much of the preseason hype.
With a week to get all of that out of its system, coach Dave Van Horn believes his team is now ready to move on.
"I think that we will improve a lot," Van Horn said. "You never know if you're going to win the games, but first off we'll be better at the plate. Our timing will be better.
"Then just playing, the first-game jitters should be behind us. I really felt like we pressed a lot last weekend. Just all the expectations and preseason hype. You know, these kids are human, You can say you're not going to let it bother you, but it's there. So hopefully we've moved on from that."
The Razorbacks will go with Nick Schmidt on the mound today, while Troy -- which is opening its season this weekend -- will counter with Clegg Snipes, a 6-foot-2 senior who went 7-0 a year ago. Last Friday, Schmidt went just three innings on a pitch count, but he did pick up the win despite allowing two runs.
Van Horn said his three starters this weekend -- Schmidt, Shaun Seibert and Duke Welker -- should expect to see their pitch counts increase from 60-65 pitches to around 80-85 pitches this weekend.
"If they can do it, they've got to go out there and earn it and have success," Van Horn said. "If not, then we'll go to the bullpen."
Arkansas at Troy
WHEN: 6 p.m., today
WHERE: Riddle-Pace Field, Troy, Ala.
RECORDS: Arkansas 2-1, 0-0; Troy 0-0, 0-0
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