Coon Slams Shockers

FAYETTEVILLE -- All week long, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn tried to treat Wednesday's Top 10 clash with Wichita State as just another midweek game.

Casey Coon, on the other hand, was more than ready to approach the Shockers as if they were king of the mountain. With a nonconference season-high crowd of 7,537 filed into Baum Stadium, the game sure felt like more than just your typical Wednesday night yawner. And for Coon, he looked at Wichita State as the perfect time to wake up his struggling bat. Coming off an 0-for-9 slump in last weekend's Georgia series, Coon -- a junior college transfer from The Community College of Southern Nevada -- gave the Shockers a quick shake Wednesday, smashing a first-inning grand slam to pace No. 7 Arkansas in an easy, 10-2 win against 10th-ranked Wichita State. "Of course this was big," Coon said. "It's Wichita State and from what I've heard it's a good rivalry between these two teams. "They're a great ballclub and this gives us a lot of confidence going into the weekend against Auburn. It was a big game and we took it to them." After Ben Tschepikow reached on a fielding error and Logan Forsythe and Jeff Nutt followed with a single and a walk, the stage was set for Coon in the bottom of the first. And as soon as the 2-1 pitch from Wichita State starter Max Hutson (0-2) was delivered, Coon knew he had something he could crush. "I had the idea a fastball was coming and I was just trying to make sure I got the bat on the ball," Coon said. "Fortunately, I got it up in the jetstream and it kept traveling." Yes it did, as Coon -- the team leader in RBIs with 51 -- slammed the Hutson pitch well over the left field wall to give Arkansas an early, 4-0 lead. After that, solid pitching from five different Razorbacks pitchers and poor defense by Wichita State (34-11) helped things turn even uglier from there on. At least from the Shockers point of view. "(Arkansas) is a good team," Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson said. "They hit the ball well, they play good defense and they hit it well when you don't put it in the right spot. And really, anybody should be able to hit when you can only throw one pitch for a strike and that's exactly what happened in those first two innings." Whether it was poor pitching or just good hitting, though, Coon was more than happy to lead the way for Arkansas (33-11) in what he considered more than just another midweek affair. "I haven't been contributing a whole lot offensively lately," Coon said. "I needed a big game to break out and hopefully this was that big game." ON DECK... Arkansas at Auburn WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday WHERE: Plainsman Park, Auburn, Ala. RECORDS: Arkansas 33-11, 13-5; Auburn 27-16, 6-12

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