Powering Up

Tim Smalling hit four round-trippers last weekend and hopes to lead Arkansas to a series-opening win over visiting Alabama on Friday night.

FAYETTEVILLE - Suddenly, Arkansas infielder Tim Smalling has found more pop in his bat.

Though he's hitting only .257, Smalling is tied for second on the team in home runs with nine. He, too, has driven in 28 runs, has 10 doubles and one triple.

It's Smalling's sudden home run power which raised eyebrows.

Last weekend, the 6-foot-3, 207-pound sophomore, who had just two homers last year, muscled out four against Ole Miss, including three in one game.

So, what gives?

"He's going with a different approach the last couple of weeks," Arkansas hitting coach Todd Butler said. "He's been reaching for the ball and swinging out of the zone. We've added a little leg kick that's kind of getting him back on the backside and he's seeing the ball well.

"I think he's hitting with confidence."

"I thought at the start of the season ... I thought he'd be a guy who could carry us for a weekend and have a good season. He's starting to climb. He's a good player.

"He's a good hitter."

Arkansas is going to need some production out of Smalling this weekend when it meets Alabama in yet another critical Southeastern Conference series, beginning at 6:35 p.m. today in Baum Stadium.

Smalling seems poised for the challenge. He has gradually improved at the plate with his new approach.

"Oh, just started doing a little leg kick, worked hard in the (batting) cage the last couple of weeks," Smalling said. "Kind of started hitting the ball and it worked out well.

"It was definitely good to get the series win down there at Ole Miss. We're now back in the race and we'll go from there."

Starting today.

"Oh, this weekend is going to be big, every weekend is big, especially in the SEC," Smalling said. "It'd be good to go out and get another series win."

Smalling doesn't know if he can duplicate last weekend's performance, but won't soon forget it.

"It was exciting, you know," Smalling said. "It was awesome. It's something I'll always remember."

Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn said Smalling is making the needed adjustments at the right time.

"He's been frustrated, he's struck out a lot this year," Van Horn said. "And coach Butler actually got with Tim and started talking to him about giving a little bit of a leg kick and maybe even keeping his front side on the baseball.

"You know, he hit four home runs on the day and he flew to the base of the fence twice, and the wind wasn't even blowing out. If a couple of those balls would have been hit Friday, he would have had six home runs.

"So, I think again, give credit to him for just being pretty resilient and getting through it. He went through a bad time there and that's the way this game works, we play so many games. But Tim has talent and he's into it. I think coach Butler and Tim worked hard together and they figured a few things out."

TODAY'S TICKET

Alabama Crimson Tide at Arkansas Razorbacks

WHEN: 6:35 p.m. WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

SERIES: 20-33 LAST MEETING: Arkansas beat Alabama 6-0 on May 23, 2007 in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover, Ala.

TV: Cox Sports Television (Cox Ch. 119)

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


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