Tough Tune-Up

Neither squad necessarily needs this tilt between top 10 teams.

Arkansas, ranked No. 12 by Baseball America, welcomes No. 5 LSU to Fayetteville this weekend for a fight for the SEC Western Division lead. Its opponent tonight at Baum Stadium, No. 9 Oklahoma (33-11), is in the midst of a brutally tough schedule, as well.

"We're in the middle of our own Murderer's Row here," Oklahoma coach Sunny Galloway said Monday. "(No. 15) TCU, to (No. 8) Texas, Wichita State, to (No. 17) Baylor and to Arkansas before we get (once-ranked) Kansas. How we get through all of this will tell us a lot about who we are.

"It's going to serve us well."

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn has voiced similar sentiments in describing his Razorbacks' difficult slate of games, which includes the Sooners for the first time since 2002.

Tonight's game marks the first time Van Horn will face Oklahoma. The Razorbacks, in Norm DeBriyn's last year as coach, beat Oklahoma 8-5 in the first game of the Wichita (Kan.) Regional in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. But the Sooners are back on the docket this season, as part of possibly the most arduous schedule compiled by Van Horn at Arkansas (29-12).

He did admit the obvious — the LSU series carries far more significance for Arkansas, which has won four of its last five contests. With so few nonconference games left this season, though, Van Horn said he'd go with most of his regular starters.

Not only to help beat OU, but also to get them ready for the Tigers.

"I'll catch (freshman James) McCann probably," Van Horn said. "I'd like to get (freshman infielder) Bo Bigham in the lineup. I don't know if I'll be able to right away, but we'll go with mostly the lineup that will play this weekend, since this is the only game this week.

"Those young guys understand."

Pitching depth could be an issue for each team. Oklahoma used seven pitchers during the last two games of its sweep at Baylor, and Van Horn said he'd try to keep some of his relievers from seeing action.

Van Horn said junior college transfer Bryan Bingham, a 6-foot-6 right-hander, would make his second start of the season.

"We'll have to go an inning here and an inning there, almost like a staff thing," Van Horn said. "We have to make sure we have plenty of guys ready to go against LSU this weekend with some rest."



TODAY'S TICKET



NO. 9 OKLAHOMA AT NO. 12 ARKANSAS

WHEN: 6:35 p.m.

WHERE: Baum Stadium, Fayetteville

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

RECORDS: Oklahoma 33-11; Arkansas 29-12

SERIES RECORD: Arkansas leads 11-9

LAST MEETING: Arkansas won 8-5 on May 31, 2002, in Wichita, Kan.

TODAY'S PROBABLE PITCHERS: Oklahoma, TBA; Arkansas, Bryan Bingham (0-0, 14.54 ERA)

Arkansas Razorbacks Upcoming Schedule

Date Opponent Site Time

May 1 LSU Fayetteville 6:35 p.m.

May 2 LSU Fayetteville 2:05 p.m.

May 3 LSU Fayetteville 1:05 p.m.

May 8 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala. 6:30 p.m.

May 9 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala. 4 p.m.

May 10 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala. 2 p.m.

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