Loaded For Bears

Arkansas (26-18) hopes to keep its power surge going on Wednesday night when Missouri State (30-13) visits Baum Stadium for a 6:35 p.m. game.

FAYETTEVILLE - Numbers can sometimes be deceiving. Especially when it comes to Arkansas baseball.

With a .287 team average, the Razorbacks rank last in the Southeastern Conference in hitting. But if you look closer, you might notice there's some pop in those Diamond Hogs bats after all.

"On the weekend (at Ole Miss) I think we hit about 11 home runs and nine in the doubleheader (Saturday)," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "The bats just woke up. They had pitchers that were throwing extremely hard and they just didn't hit their spots. And when they missed, we hit it. That's a credit to (hitting) coach (Todd) Butler and our offense. He did a great job getting us ready."

While the Razorbacks might not hit for a great average as a team, they sure put on a power show against the Rebels. And that was the main reason Arkansas was able to bounce back from a Friday loss and win both games of a Saturday doubleheader, 13-11 and 12-4, to take its first series in Oxford since 2002.

Now, Arkansas (26-18) hopes to build off that momentum as it begins a nine-game homestand at 6:35 p.m. today against Missouri State (30-13) at Baum Stadium.

"We knew that we needed to win at a minimum one game (at Ole Miss)," Van Horn said. "Two would be great, winning the series. But one would keep us in the race, knowing we were coming home for six straight.

"We just got off to good start (Saturday). Swung the bats extremely well, pitched well, threw strikes and didn't really give them anything. And defensively on the day I think we made two errors at third that were critical errors in the first game where we could have put that game away. But we were strong enough to come back and won it and then in the second game we didn't make a single error."

With just enough pitching and defense thrown in the mix, the Razorbacks certainly accomplished their goals at Ole Miss. And by doing so, Arkansas finds itself still in the hunt for one of the coveted eight spots in the SEC Tournament.

Crazy as it sounds, though, these Razorbacks are also still thinking SEC Western Division title as well.

"We were like this about three years back and then a couple of teams pulled away at the end," Van Horn said. "But that was maybe not this close. I mean one good weekend and you go from third or fourth all the way to first (in the division). It's crazy. You know, Alabama feels the same way, LSU feels the same way and it's going to go down to the very last weekend."

After losing its first four SEC series this season, Arkansas has won the last three. And now - most importantly - the Razorbacks appear to be picking up the slack on offense as veterans Logan Forsythe, Tim Smalling and Ben Tschepikow are all swinging a hot stick. But before the Diamond Hogs turn their attention back to the conference, they must get past a difficult test today in Missouri State.

"They've won like seven or eight games in a row and they're actually leading the Missouri Valley," Van Horn said. "They're ahead of Wichita State at this time, so we'll have our hands full (today) and then we've got a big series on the weekend against Alabama."

TODAY'S TICKET

Missouri State Bears at Arkansas Razorbacks

WHEN: 6:35 p.m., today

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

RECORDS: Missouri State 30-13; Arkansas 26-18

TV: none

ON THE AIR: KFAY 1030 AM; KURM 790 AM, 100.3 FM; KHGG 1580 AM, 103.1 FM; KXIO 106.9 FM

SERIES: Arkansas leads, 33-18

LAST MEETING: Razorbacks won, 7-6 in 10 innings on April 1 in Springfield, Mo.


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