With the NCAA pushing the mandated start time to the new season back to the third weekend of February, college teams are forced to plug up the schedule with as many midweek games as possible between now and the beginning of conference play to reach the 56-game maximum for the season. So instead of gradually adding a Tuesday or Wednesday affair here or there, Arkansas — like most everyone else — is forced to stuff the slate with midweek contests right from the start.
Fresh off a three-game sweep of Wright State, the Razorbacks (3-0) open up their first five-game week of the season at 3:05 p.m. today when they play host to Southeast Missouri State (2-1) at Baum Stadium. For Arkansas, it marks the first of seven weeks this season in which it will play five games.
"Midweeks are going to be a lot more tough this year," junior third basemen Logan Forsythe said. "You know, two a week for however many weeks this year. So we're not going to take any midweek like it's any different from a weekend series. We're going to come out here, stay determined, stay focused and try to win a game.
"And it's going to be fun because we've got a different guy on the mound and maybe some different players. That's what fun about early in the season. We get to see some of the freshmen play, some of the pitchers pitch in actual games against somebody else and it's fun."
SEMO (2-1) is coming off a weekend series at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and the Redhawks figure to be a bit of a test for the Diamond Hogs.
"A scary team," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Last year, I know they had a pitcher that was like 9-1 and was Pitcher of the Week like three times in their league. I don't know if they threw him this week, but we're in the middle of our pitching so we're just going to go out and try to piece it together like we're going to have to do with a lot of the these Tuesday and Wednesday games. "
Van Horn wasn't ready to announce a starting pitcher for today's game following Sunday's win against Wright State. But one option could be freshman James Mahler. After lasting just 1 1/3 innings in Friday's season opener against the Raiders, Mahler could be ready to go today.
Following the contest with SEMO, the Razorbacks host Kansas (2-3) at 3:05 p.m. on Wednesday. The Jayhawks — coming off a five-game trip to Hawaii-Hilo — will likely be Arkansas' strongest obstacle so far.
But it's a challenge Van Horn is looking forward to at this point in the season.
"What they have is I think they have seven starters back in their position players and two of their three conference (starting pitchers) back," Van Horn said. "So we'll have our hands full and we know it. They'll be geared up for us and the thing we're trying to figure out is if they're going to throw their ace at us. Because two days later they face Vanderbilt in a tournament.
"So either way, if they throw their best they throw their best. But either way, it's time for us to get after somebody."
SEMO at Arkansas, 3:05 p.m.
Kansas at Arkansas, 3:05 p.m.
WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville
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Arkansas Ready For Midweek Madness
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