Arkansas hitting coach Todd Butler doesn't want home run swings, but he isn't going to turn down what the Razorbacks have done at the plate through 14 games this college baseball season. He just knows there is more in the tank.
"I don't think we bring it every single game," Butler said after the Hogs socked two more home runs in a 7-0 victory Saturday over Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Baum Stadium.
"There are some days I don't think we've come to play. We seem to have a game every weekend, or every series where we aren't there. I want more consistency. I want to see it every game."
Butler has a point. They were shutout by California on Sunday, then lost a 3-2 decision to South Dakota State on Tuesday.
The Hogs have clubbed 20 home runs so far this season, the most in the SEC. Mostly, they've done that with the wind blowing in at Baum Stadium where the traditional wind rips in from the right field foul pole anywhere towards home to towards the left field foul pole.
"I think we've hit a lot of those into the wind," Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn said. "It was blowing out a little today, but that's unusual."
Van Horn said he hadn't studied the home run totals from around the league and wasn't aware the Hogs had hit the most circuit clouts.
"That is interesting, because this isn't a home run park," he said. "There are some of the parks around the league that are a little more fair to a hitter than this park. I wouldn't have guessed we are up there.
"But I think we've got some guys who are capable of hitting home runs. We knew some of these guys, like a James McCann, were going to hit some home runs. What's McCann got? Four? Yeah, he showed some power in the fall, so I'm not surprised at what he's done. His swing is much better than when he got here and he's much, much bigger and stronger. He's going to hit some.
"We do have the potential to hit some home runs if we work the count right and let it fly. By that I mean, just do a good job of making contact until we get the count to 2-0 or 3-1. That's when you let it fly."
Collin Kuhn and Andy Wilkins each hit home runs Saturday when the wind was just slightly blowing out to right. Wilkins leads the team with six.
"That's not really what we come to the park to do each day," Butler said of the home runs. "What we want to do is keep our strikeouts down, hit doubles and make sure we are tough outs.
"I think we've hit those goals for the most part, but I just don't think we've been consistent enough. That's what I talked to the hitters after today's game. Can they come to the park and be consistent again Sunday? I want them to come to play every single day. They haven't put it together for three straight days all the time this year. How do you do that? You do it pitch by pitch. You be consistent.
"I think this is going to be a great team. But they need to be more consistent."
That's what pitching coach Dave Jorn was looking for from Drew Smyly on Saturday. The lefthander had his best outing of the season, allowing only four hits over seven innings in a solid 105-pitch performance. It was the Hogs' first shutout since they blanked Oklahoma in the NCAA tournament last year, again with Smyly on the mound.
"I was pleased with what Drew did today," Jorn said. "I thought he was more aggressive than he'd been so far this year. He attacked the hitters. He was more consistent with his fast ball. I liked his consistent intensity.
"I know some are looking at the shutout, but what I was looking at was his mental approach. It was better. He attacked with his fast ball. He didn't throw hardly any changeups and not a lot of breaking balls. We wanted to see if he could just be aggressive with his fast ball."
That is in contrast with his end-of-the-season performance against the Sooners when his out pitch was a devastating changeup.
"He's going to need the changeup and his breaking ball will be more important as we move into the season, but we wanted to see if he could consistently come after the hitters with the fast ball today. So today was good. He had very good focus. His tempo was good."
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