No Place Like Home?

FAYETTEVILLE -- Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn knew when he put together the 2007 baseball schedule that staying on the road the first couple of weeks would be a wise move, for a couple of reasons.

Not only would the Razorbacks benefit from early tests against Louisiana Tech and Troy, but the Diamond Hogs would also use the first two weeks trying to avoid that sometimes nasty weather which comes to Northwest Arkansas in early and mid-February.

Well, at least Van Horn hit one of his goals.

When Arkansas attempts to open the home portion of the 2007 season today -- after being postponed Friday -- the team will again be braving the cold spell which has hit the area like a ton of bricks. And with temperatures expected to remain in the mid to high 30s for today's game against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Razorbacks are preparing for another day of anything but baseball-like weather.

"(The weather) is not what we were hoping for," senior outfielder Jake Dugger said. "But we get our work done inside.

"I think it's pretty much bad weather all across the country, so you just have to deal with it."

While dealing with the poor conditions, the Razorbacks have also had to fight off those first-game nerves, as far as the home opener is concerned. After traveling on the bus and riding the plane for the past two weeks, the Arkansas players were admittedly anxious to play their first game of the year in Baum Stadium.

Now, with Friday's postponement, the wait is almost unbearable.

"This is going to be nice to finally play at home," said junior pitcher Nick Schmidt, who will start today's game. "It's going to be cold this weekend, but it's going to be nice to finally play in front of our fans."

Schmidt (1-0, 2.00 earned run average) will face Robert Michalkiewicz today in the first of three games in the series. The Panthers -- a member of the Horizon League -- finished 35-22 last year and will be playing in their first game of the 2007 season today.

"I used to play (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) a lot when I was at Nebraska," Van Horn said. "In their league, it's usually them or Illinois-Chicago, who's actually beat us here, that ends up winning it.

"They compete and they always have some guys who can hit. They get some guys who might get overlooked up north, but they always compete real well and they'll be looking forward to coming down here."


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