Seibert Back In The Saddle

FAYETTEVILLE -- Dave Van Horn knows he has a good baseball team in 2007. Van Horn also knows if his Arkansas Razorbacks want to be a championship team, certain players must step up.

The first guy on the list? Shaun Seibert.

"We need Shaun to go out there and show us what he can do," Van Horn said. "We know he's better than what he's been and we're going to give him the ball and say, here you go, and hopefully he'll respond."

After two appearances as a starting pitcher, Seibert was quickly moved to the bullpen by Van Horn and pitching coach Dave Jorn. Giving up five runs in just one inning in Arkansas' 13-8 loss at Troy on Feb. 10 sparked the move, but now after two weeks in the bullpen Seibert is back where he belongs.

"I kind of struggled my first few outings and I probably didn't deserve to be starting," Seibert said. "Those other guys were pitching better than me, but I've been working hard in practice to get back on the saddle, so to speak."

Seibert's first shot at redemption comes today when Arkansas begins play in the Dairy Queen Classic, a tournament hosted by the University of Minnesota at The Metrodome in Minneapolis. He'll also be tested right away in his return to rotation, with the Razorbacks facing Southeastern Conference rival Ole Miss -- and its ace, Will Kline -- at 12:15 p.m. today in the tournament opener.

"Shaun is important," Jorn said. "He's got very good stuff, a good fastball, good sinking stuff and he mixes his stuff really good.

"It's going to be hard for us to have success without him, and we need him to step up and pitch well for us."

With the Rebels (7-3) pitching their ace today, Van Horn opted to save his top arm -- Nick Schmidt -- until Sunday's tournament finale against Minnesota. The way Van Horn sees it, Kline and Schmidt figure to do battle at least once in the conference season and then again perhaps in the SEC Tournament, which is enough.

"Ole Miss was already in the tournament when we got in it, so they weren't real happy about (having to play us) either," Van Horn said. "I'm going to pitch a little differently and we're not going to throw Schmidt against Ole Miss. I know they're still throwing Kline, but Nick faced them last year in a big series and I just don't want Nick to give them too many looks."

With Seibert moved back into the rotation and taking the hill today, and Schmidt scheduled for Sunday, that leaves Duke Welker for Saturday. Welker will start against The Citadel with Dallas Keuchel -- Seibert's short-term replacement in the rotation -- moved back to the pen this weekend.

"It's nothing Dallas Keuchel did wrong," Van Horn said. "We just want to go with Duke and then come in with Dallas' left arm out of the pen Saturday, if all goes well."


Dairy Queen Classic, No. 5 Arkansas vs. Ole Miss

WHEN: 12:15 p.m., today

WHERE: The Metrodome, Minneapolis, Minn.

RECORDS: Arkansas 9-3, 0-0; Ole Miss 7-3, 0-0

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