State of the Hogs: Butler Wants More

The Hogs didn't have a single strikeout on Sunday, but hitting coach Todd Butler wants more hits. He said the Arkansas hitters are going to see better pitching and need to step it up.

Arkansas was outscored 6-0 and outhit 5-1 in the last seven innings, something that weighed heavy with the Hogs after the 7-6 victory over Troy on Sunday at Baum Stadium.

Yes, the Hogs swept the Trojans in the three-game series, but not hitting over the last seven innings in a Sunday series finale may have left the Hogs a little angry afterwards.

"I got on them out there," said Todd Butler, UA hitting coach just seconds after leaving a meeting in the grass in short leftfield. "I told them that's not going to get it. I think there is more in the tank than that and I told them all they can do better. We didn't apply the knockout punch after getting the early lead."

Butler was careful to praise Troy pitchers. He said the two opposition pitchers did well on Sunday. But he said the Hogs are going to face much better opposition and need to improve.

"Those guys were throwing a lot of soft off-speed stuff and we didn't handle it too well," Butler said. "It's still early and we haven't been outside much against live pitching because of our weather. But we better improve. We are about to see some really good stuff."

Butler said pitching will improve Tuesday against Kansas and it will sure take a jump up with California when the Hogs travel to the west coast on Friday for a three-game series against the Pac-10 Bears.

"We haven't seen anything hard yet," he said. "It's all been off speed the first six games. We are about to see some 90-95 mph fast balls. We are going to see sliders about 88. That's what Kansas and Cal have to throw at us.

"I told our guys just now, that's good because that's going to get us ready for what we'll see in the SEC. We need to see some hard stuff. We need to see better velocity."

There was some good in the UA hitting Sunday. There were no strikeouts.

"That's our goal, to get those strikeouts to zero," Butler said. "But we also had some innings where we went on the first pitch. We had two innings where we were out in four pitches. That's two innings, eight pitches.

"The ultimate goal is to score runs. We did alright this weekend, but I think we had them on the ropes a couple of times with good starts at the plate and didn't really pounce on them. I want more of a killer instinct. You need to keep scoring runs on Sunday."

Both Zack Cox and Andy Wilkins noted the same thing.

"I didn't even realize it was no strikeouts until after the game when Coach Butler mentioned it," Wilkins said. "That's good, but like he said, by the same token, we can't swing at the first pitch if it's not a good one."

Cox said, "A good start, bad finish. We have to be more selective at the plate and don't help them. We'll get better. I think we all know what we have to do to get better, but a game with no strikeouts is good. Winning is good, too."

Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn credited the Trojans, but he also said they got some help a few times.

"We hit a couple of balls hard right at them," Van Horn said. "That happens. But we have to do better than that. Those fast innings and low pitch counts aren't good."

Butler said, "We had some guys swing the bat well this weekend. Obviously, Cox and Wilkins had good weekends. And I think Jarrod McKinney is doing what a lead off man needs to do. He's on base an awful lot. For him, it isn't about batting average, it's about on base percentage and I like what he's doing. He's been a good leadoff man for us so far."

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