Weather hampers preseason

Dave Van Horn said his team should be prepared for this weekend's season-opening series with Ball State, but acknowledged weather has been a factor in preparation.

It was nice and warm in Johnny Mike Walker Lounge on the second floor of Baum Stadium, but there was no change outside. It was cold with snow flurries as Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn talked about baseball.

The Hogs open the season with a three-game series starting at 3:05 p.m. Friday against Ball State. Game time for Saturday and Sunday is both 1:05 p.m.

The Hogs have been outside only twice since the start of official team workouts, first Friday and then for a scrimmage on Saturday. It was 26 and snowy on Monday, so it was unlikely they would get outside to start the week after taking Sunday off.

"It's been very difficult to prepare but I don't feel like we have any excuses," Van Horn said. "I don't feel like Ball State is in any better situation than we are. I'm sure they have a little better indoor facility and have been working in there and fighting to get outside before they get here."

Sophomore third baseman Zack Cox said weather has hurt several teams and not just Arkansas.

"I'm sure there haven't been too many teams outside with the weather that's been around the last few weeks," said Cox, one of the team's three captains. Cox is a sophomore third baseman.

"Most teams start slow as far as hitting and we might have a little bit of a slow start. It's a setback, but it's a setback for everyone else, too."

Cox said the key is to keep preparation the same.

"You just go ahead and get ready as best you can," Cox said. "It's not like we aren't working, though. We've been in the cages. We've just missed live at bats outside.

"I think what you miss is just that feedback of where the ball is going when you hit it. You don't get that in the cage. I will say that most of us know where it was probably going. As a hitter, you know when you crushed it.

"What it forced us to do is spend a little more time on certain drills that you can do in the cage or inside. You just do what you have to do to get ready."

One disadvantage to the weather has been a lack of facing pitchers.

"What I can say is that we just don't have many ABs against live pitching as we normally would get," Cox said. "Maybe you'd usually get 30-40 live ABs this time of year. We've gotten maybe 10.

"Eventually, we'll get it all worked out. I'm not worried. We'll get it going and be alright."

Andy Wilkins, junior first baseman and another team captain, said the Hogs are excited, bad weather or not.

"There are definitely a lot of anxious guys in and around the clubhouse," he said. "But, hey, it might even be a positive. You might see that the guys are pretty fresh. Not too many are worn down because we just haven't been able to do too much. I'd rather look at the positives. I think we just need to embrace it and not let it bother us.

"Yeah, we probably needed to see a few more fly balls and some other stuff, but you can't do anything about it."

Despite the weather, Wilkins said the Hogs have not changed their goals. After winning a couple of games at the College World Series last season, Wilkins said the team is looking for more this year.

"From day one, we have had a sour taste in our mouth from not winning last year," he said. "We have been there and we want to go back. But just to go back to Omaha is not our only goal. We want to win the national championship."

Dave Van Horn met with the media Monday.

Photo by Marc F. Henning

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