Razorbacks Ready To Release Frustrations

FAYETTEVILLE — Following an 8-7 win in 10 innings against Western Illinois last Friday, Arkansas players were not happy. Giving up a four-run lead late against the Leathernecks instead left the Razorbacks with a feeling of dissatisfaction.

"Our guys are just frustrated after the last game," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn. "We didn't play well the last few innings, we didn't put anybody away and we didn't string together any hits.

"But we know it's coming."

The frustration from the first game against Western Illinois only built up even more when the final two games of the series were canceled due to inclement weather. Instead of getting right back to work, Arkansas was forced to wait a few more days to hit the field. And as the Razorbacks do get ready for their next contest — facing Valparaiso (4-1) at 3 p.m. today — Van Horn expects his team to be hungry for a strong showing.

"Believe me, our team right now is not feeling very good about themselves," Van Horn said. "They have a little bit of an edge and really it's not inflicted by the coaches. It's self-inflicted and they don't feel good about the way we've been winning."

Arkansas (5-1) — ranked No. 21 in the latest Baseball America poll — has put together spurts of solid play through the first two weeks. But the Razorbacks have also struggled at times, being forced to win three games already in extra innings.

While wins in any form are nice, Van Horn knows his club hasn't come close to playing its best baseball yet.

"Hopefully we'll slowly get better," Van Horn said. "And then we'll take off."

Scheduled to start on Saturday before the cancellation, Drew Smyly has now been moved into today's starter role, with Brett Eibner slated to take the mound Wednesday. Smyly — a redshirt freshman lefty out of Little Rock Central — pitched four innings in his first start and allowed no earned runs on three hits in that outing.

"I thought Drew last week threw really well," Van Horn said. "We had him on a pitch count coming off arm surgery last year and he gave us four quality innings.

"You know if he has a good outing we have plans on using him on the weekend, and maybe even in the rotation."

Today's game is the first of 20 in the month of March for Arkansas. And as Van Horn puts it, now is the time to make a statement. But as the Razorbacks begin a tough stretch on the diamond, not overlooking any opponent — including Valparaiso — should be a key for Arkansas.

"We need to respect everybody we play," Van Horn said. "And they know that."



WHEN: 3:05 p.m. today; 3:05 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

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

RECORDS: Valparaiso 4-1; Arkansas 5-1

SERIES: First meeting

TODAY'S PROBABLE PITCHERS: Valparaiso, Alex Berry (0-1, 6.00 ERA); Arkansas, Drew Smyly (0-0, 0.00 ERA)

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