Arkansas Players Know Their Geography
FAYETTEVILLE -- A few Arkansas players were asked three simple geography questions Thursday. What's the capital of New York? Where is Creighton located? Where is Oklahoma State? "Albany. Creighton is in Omaha," Arkansas catcher Brian Walker said. "Yeah, I'm smart. No, I was good in geography." "Oklahoma State, that would be in Stillwater." Razorbacks third baseman Logan Forsythe came close to getting all three right, but stumbled once. "Albany? Creighton? I don't know," Forsythe said. "Is it in Omaha? I didn't know, I just know Albany is in the America West, is that right? Or East. "Their mascot is the Great Danes." Razorbacks center fielder Jake Dugger, an Omaha, Neb., native, had no problem with the pop quiz. "Albany ... yeah, it's Albany," Dugger said. "Creighton is Omaha. Oklahoma State, it's in Stillwater. Mascot? The GREAT Dane." Arkansas opens NCAA Fayetteville Regional play against Albany at 6:37 p.m. today in Baum Stadium. Most players admitted they knew very little about Albany. Razorbacks hitting coach Todd Butler did say it can't be overlooked. "I know they are the Great Danes and I know they've done a great job toward the end of the season," Butler said. "It kind of reminds me of being at McNeese (La.) State as the head coach when I was coaching. "We went to a regional and opened up with Rice and they were No. 1 in the national and we went 10 innings with them. That's baseball, anything can happen. We have a lot of respect for Albany. "They wouldn't be here if they weren't good." MLB Draft On Horizon Several Arkansas players likely are candidates to be taken in the annual Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft next week. Most notable are junior right-hander pitcher Jess Todd, junior lefty Nick Schmidt, junior righty Duke Welker and senior first baseman Danny Hamblin. "I'd be lying if I'm not thinking about it because it's less than a week away," Todd said. "I'm in about the same boat that Nick is. I thought about it early too much and that kind of got me in trouble. "Early, both of us were thinking about it. Now, it's one game at a time and that's been helping us out." Schmidt, the school's career leader in strikeouts, said he doesn't have a clue what round he'll be picked in next week. "I'm just looking forward for it to be over," Schmidt said. "No, I don't know at all where I'll go." Favorite team? "Cardinals," Schmidt said. "Hey, I'm from St. Louis." Hamblin, the school's all-time home run hitter is eligible for his second draft. He was picked in the ninth round by the Oakland A's last year, but opted to return this season. "Yeah, you do think about it," Hamblin said. "It's not something you don't think about. Right now, I'm just trying to help us win ballgames. To comment on (the draft), you know, you just hope you get a chance. "That's the only way to approach it. "I came back for a reason (getting back to the College World Series). I'm trying to keep focused on that reason and we'll just leave it at that." Other possible draft picks are Walker, Dugger and maybe even left fielder Casey Coon. "I want to play, I want to continue to play baseball," Dugger said. "I want to give pro baseball a shot. If I get the opportunity, I'm going to take it." Keeping In Touch Hamlin, a native of Rowlett, Texas, still stays in touch with former Razorbacks outfielder/designated hitter Clint Arnold, who transferred to TCU after last year. Arnold, who played the 2005 and 2006 seasons with Arkansas, is a native of Grand Prairie, Texas. "Actually, I talked to him last night," Hamblin said. "You know, they go down to Rice for their regional. He ended up making all-conference and all-tournament. "He had a good year. Hopefully, they'll go down there and play well." Aren't You? Creighton coach Ed Servais is the uncle of former major leaguer, Scott Servais, also a former Creighton player. "Oh, I talk with him once a week, once every other week," Ed Servais said. "We've very close. He played baseball at Creighton and he's very interested in our program." Scott Servais, probably best know for his years with the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros, today is the director of player development for the Texas Rangers. A Bad Memory Arkansas fans probably remember Oklahoma State senior outfielder Ty Wright, a 6-foot, 195 pounder from Wills Point, Texas, as being a villain. It was Wright's dramatic catch at the wall in left field on a long fly ball with two outs in the ninth inning by Walker which ended the season for the Razorbacks last year. Oklahoma State held on for a 6-5 win to eliminate Arkansas from the 2006 Fayetteville Regional in Baum Stadium. "Yeah, that was me," Wright said. "The ball was hit into the gap. At the time, I didn't think it was that big a deal. I pretty much thought I was going to get it. "To be honest, all I know it was a one-run game at the time and there was a man on when Walker hit it. I don't even remember the score. I think it was something like 7-6, but I do remember that play. "Looking back, though, I had had to run a pretty good way to get to it. It actually looked like I made a pretty good play on it." OSU coach Frank Anderson didn't think Wright would be able to track in down once it left Walker's bat. "I thought it was out of here for a home run and I'm sure (Brian) Walker did, too," Anderson said. "That was a big catch and it extended our tournament here." Oral Roberts went on to win the regional. Walker Overlooked? Walker perhaps surprisingly wasn't recruited by Oklahoma or Oklahoma State coming out of Tulsa Union High. He originally signed with Arizona State, but redshirted there his freshman year. Walker transferred to Arkansas in August of 2004. "I think I got a letter from them, it wasn't anything significant," Walker said. "I wasn't recruited by any of the Oklahoma schools, which I thought was really weird, but you know given the time and I was kind of away from them all. "It's just one of those things. It just didn't work out." Enjoying The Moment All four teams held practices in Baum Stadium on Thursday. Albany was the last team off the field. The Great Danes (29-27) play No. 1 seed Arkansas (41-19) in the late game today. Oklahoma State (38-19) meets Creighton (44-14) in the first game. Albany players seemed excited about being there, too. Great Danes players posed for pictures of each other and were almost giddy with excitement. Lineup Switch Expect Arkansas to have a different look in its batting order when the Razorbacks square off against Albany today. Instead of hitting in his usual leadoff position, senior centerfielder Jake Dugger is expected to move to the No. 9 hole, while junior second basemen Ben Tschepikow will move to leadoff. Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn said Danny Hamblin will also move up from seventh to fifth in the lineup and hot-hitting Logan Forsythe will be expected to hit in the No. 2 hole.
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