Diamond Hogs Hunting Regional Win

Arkansas looks to take advantage of being home today as NCAAA Tournament regional play gets underway with Oklahoma State facing Creighton at 2:37 p.m. and the Razorbacks tangling with Albany at 6:37 p.m.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The way Danny Hamblin sees it, every dog has its day.

He's just hoping that doesn't include Great Danes.

As Arkansas prepares to begin its 2007 postseason by hosting an NCAA Fayetteville regional for the third time in five years, the Razorbacks main focus is on themselves. But as Hamblin points out, the Razorbacks won't be taking anyone lightly.

Arkansas (41-19) is the No. 1 seed at this weekend's Fayetteville Regional and will play fourth-seeded Albany at 6:37 p.m. today at Baum Stadium.

And while the Diamond Hogs would appear to be an overwhelming favorite against the New York-based Great Danes, Hamblin for one warns that this time of year, anything is possible.

"You don't take any games lightly," the Arkansas senior first basemen said. "You go after a No. 4 (seed) as if you're going after a No. 1.

"You look back last year (in the regional), it's the seventh inning against Princeton and we have no hits. I mean any dog can win on any day. Albany got hot at the right time and you've got to look at it like they're coming here to win. So we've got to be ready."

While Albany (29-27) did get hot at the right time -- winning the America East Conference tournament after finishing just third in the regular season -- the Razorbacks aren't exactly slouching themselves.

Coming off an impressive SEC Tournament in which they reeled off three straight wins before losing in the finals to top-ranked Vanderbilt, the No. 11-ranked Diamond Hogs feel confident about their ability to advance past this weekend's set of games.

But Arkansas also learned a good lesson at last year's regional that taking a team like Albany for granted can cost you in a big way.

"It can be real dangerous if you don't go into the game like you should," sophomore third basemen Logan Forsythe said. "You saw what happened against Oral Roberts (in the regional) last year. I mean we talked about it after practice (Thursday). Just take it easy tonight and bring that intensity that we brought during the SEC Tournament.

"If we can do that, then we should be all right."

While Albany is coming to Fayetteville to win, the fact is the Great Danes are a No. 4 seed for a reason. Featuring a lineup with little power and hardly any speed, this team's best weapon might be just plain old fashioned experience.

With seven seniors in the everyday lineup -- including today's starting pitcher, John Naples (8-2, 3.29 ERA) -- the Great Danes could give a younger team fits.

"We don't know much about them," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "But they start seven seniors and that probably means they won't be fazed by the big crowd.

"They've also got a good right-hander starting on the mound, so we'll have to be ready to play." If Arkansas isn't ready, be careful.

Because as Hamblin pointed out, every dog -- even Great Danes -- have their day.

"We're going to try to do the best job we can when we're there," Albany coach Jon Mueller said. "I know there's going to be 25 guys in the dugout listening to what I'm saying and I'm not sure if the other 11,000 people there care what we do. "We're just really going to be focused on what we do and we're going to try to go out there and compete the best we can."



WHO: No. 1 seed Arkansas, No. 2 Creighton, No. 3 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Albany

WHEN: Friday through Monday

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville ON THE AIR: KFAY 1030-AM (All games); KYNG 1590-AM; KHGG 1580-AM; KHGG 103.1-FM; KURM 790-AM; KURM 100.3-FM; KXIO 106.9-FM; KTTG 96.3-FM

TV: CSTV (Cox Cable Ch. 119, Dish satellite ch. 152)

RECORDS: Arkansas 41-19; Creighton 44-14; Oklahoma State 38-19; Albany 29-27

FRIDAY'S SCHEDULE: Creighton vs. Oklahoma State, 2:37 p.m.; Arkansas vs. Albany, 6:37 p.m.

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