Diamond Dandy

Junior left-hander Cliff Springston, who has pitched in California in big games before, will get the ball Friday at 3 p.m. when Arkansas (34-22) takes on Pepperdine (36-19) in the NCAA Tournament Stanford Regional.

FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas pitcher Cliff Springston wouldn't want it any other way.

Big time pitchers want the ball in big games, and Springston transferred to Arkansas to be in this situation.

So when the Razorbacks (34-22) take on Pepperdine (36-19) at 3 p.m. on Friday in an opening round matchup in the Stanford Regional, the 6-foot-3, 202-pound junior left-hander from Lorena, Texas, will take the hill.

"Absolutely," Springston said when asked if he wanted the ball first. "So would Dallas (Keuchel). So would Justin (Wells). That's just the kind of guys we are. I think the whole team feels comfortable with whoever gets the ball first."

Springston's recent body of work has provided him with this opportunity to start. He's 5-2 with a 3.83 earned run average. He leads the Razorbacks in wins, games started (10) and innings pitched (75 1/3).

In five of his last seven starts, Springston has worked at least 6 2/3 innings on the mound.

"He's pitched good and there's still a lot of upside to Cliff," Arkansas pitching coach Dave Jorn said. "He's still learning how to maintain, I don't want to say necessarily poise and composure, but it does have a little bit to do with that when you talk about backing off of effort and trying to locate the baseball, moving the baseball, changing speeds.

"You have to be able to control your emotions, control your thought process on how you feel about you out there, whether or not it's enough to get the job done."

Springston, a transfer from Baylor, pitched at Long Beach and Pacific, respectively, the past two years. He knows what to expect.

"It's nothing new going to California," Springston said. "It's West Coast baseball and they're always scrappy. They always have good pitching, good fielding and they'll be able to swing it."

Jorn said if Springston stays within himself he could be a factor in Friday's game.

"He's a good competitor and sometimes wants to overthrow and over compete physically instead of mentally," Jorn said. "He needs to be more determined on making his pitch, understanding what the situation is and understand on what he's trying to do with each pitch, what he's trying to execute. Whether he needs a double play or whether he needs a strikeout, whatever it might be in certain situations.

"If he stays within himself, boy, he's had two real good games where he's minimized the number of pitches like down at Florida and here recently against South Carolina. Actually, at Mississippi State he threw the ball good.

"I think he'll be ready."

Friday's Postseason Ticket

NCAA Stanford Regional

Arkansas vs. Pepperdine

WHEN: Friday through Monday

WHERE: Klein Field at Sunken Diamond, Palo Alto, Calif.

THE FIELD: No. 1 seed Stanford (33-21-2), No. 2 Pepperdine (36-19), No. 3 Arkansas (34-22), No. 4 Cal-Davis (34-22).

FRIDAY'S SCHEDULE: Arkansas vs. Pepperdine, 3 p.m.; Stanford vs. Cal-Davis, 7 p.m.

TV: None

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

FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS: Arkansas, LHP Cliff Springston (5-2, 3.83 ERA); Pepperdine, RHP Nathan Newman (7-4, 3.52 ERA)

SERIES: Arkansas leads 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Arkansas won 5-4 in the first round of the 1979 College World Series in Omaha, Neb.


Position: Left-handed Pitcher

Ht: 6-3

Wt: 202

Class: Junior

Hometown: Lorena, Texas

Notable: Springston signed with Baylor out of high school. He played two years with the Bears and had a 4-4 record in 33 appearances.

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