"I feel confident and excited that we got the bid to host," McCann said. "Now we see the path we must take. We are very excited"
The key, McCann said, is for the hitting to catch up to the Razorbacks' pitching. The Hogs have been stepping up on the mound, but the bats have withered as injuries have hit the middle of the batting order. Andy Wilkins, Zack Cox and Brett Eibner have all battled injuries. Andy Wilkins, who had a collision in the SEC tournament, was pronounced well on Monday.
McCann said the Hogs have a plan to get the bats going again.
"If you go back to when we won 17 straight games, we had a simple approach," McCann said. "We went the other way with the outside fast ball and we hit the inside fast ball the other way with an inside out pitch. We got away from that approach. It's that simple. We've worked hard on that the last two days in practice.
"I know that's going to be my approach. I have to take away that fast all that's away. If you do that, the pitcher has got nothing. It's getting back to basics and the fundamentals.
"When I've struggled, it's been trying to pull the fast ball that's away and then you can't get the slider. It's going to get you out. If you are going the other way with the fast ball away, you can adjust to the slider, too. You are stepping to that pitch and you can take it the other way.
"We are doing everything we can to come back in a big way this weekend. Our pitching has done a heckuva job. It's just a matter of getting the bats going and getting a couple of big bats back in our lineup."
That would be Cox and Eibner. Both rested in the SEC tournament. Cox has a problem in the upper back. Eibner has a hairline fracture in his wrist. Cox hit off a tee Saturday and Sunday without problems. Eibner has a brace on his wrist and will take swings for the first time in over a week on Wednesday.
"I think we'll have them both back for this weekend," said McCann, who rooms with Cox. "You know Cox is going to play if he can. What he did the last couple of days tells me he's going to play."
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said the Hogs want Cox in the lineup, but they won't take a chance if he's not able to swing full go on Tuesday.
"Zack has been hitting off a tee without any problems the last two days," Van Horn said. "He took some good swings. He's able to take ground balls and throw. So I think he's getting better. But we want to be careful. We don't want a tweak now. We might lose him for several weeks if he tweaks it again. So we are taking it slow.
"We think we have a month of baseball left and we want him back at some point. So we'll go easy this week.
"I want him to see some live pitching (Tuesday) and we will go from there."
Van Horn said the goal is to keep the brace on Eibner's right wrist until Wednesday when he'll take some swings, too.
"Eibner's wrist is better, but we want another day of rest for him," Van Horn said. "We'll probably just use him in the outfield this weekend, but we could still pitch depending on how it goes."
Van Horn said he's proud of Cox for being smart during the last two weeks since the injury. He remembers Cox playing with a hurt back for the first two months of last season before finally telling coaches.
"He took two at bats in a game at Vanderbilt and came back and told us he felt something, a tweak," Van Horn said. "I appreciated that. He needed to be careful with it and he has. I know he wants to play. The easy thing is for him to just say, 'I'm OK, I can go.' He'd be back out there. So we want him to tell us what it really is so we can be smart about it."
Eibner's injury is different. He can't hurt himself more. It's just going to be a matter of tolerating some pain.
"It's better, not hurting as much," Eibner said Monday. "So it's getting better. I've kept this brace on it and done what they've told me to do. I've not taken any swings. I'll try to take some (Tuesday)."
Van Horn said Eibner could pitch in a closing situation in the regional, but that has yet to be settled.
"I think maybe an inning," Van Horn said. "But it does hurt for him to throw so we may not do that. We are going to save his throws for the outfield. When he pitches, it irritates it so that's why we want to be careful with it as far as pitching."
Van Horn said the hitting approach has been the focus the last two days as much as getting the big bats rested.
"We want to get back to going the other way," he said. "We need to take the fast ball the other way like we were earlier when we were hot. We've been coaching that and swinging inside out on the inside pitches."
Leadoff hitter Collin Kuhn is concentrating on more hits, less power.
"I think you get to hitting home runs and you start trying to pull it too much," Van Horn said. "He had two at bats where he hit it deep to the alley in Hoover and they were outs. They would have been home runs in our park or home runs in Vanderbilt's park. We talked about that and showed him where he was hitting it earlier this year when his average was up. He was cracking them down the line to right, in the alley in right and then pulling mistakes for home runs. He's got to get back to that approach."
Van Horn isn't ready to commit to his starter for the Friday game against Grambling.
"We'll announce that (Tuesday)," he said, noting the options he's considering now include Drew Smyly, Mike Bolsinger, T. J. Forrest and Jeremy Heatley.
"I'm not sure right now," Van Horn said. "Bolsinger's shoulder has been bothering him. T. J. needs to throw. He's been one of our best pitchers down the stretch. Drew needs to throw. But I'm not sure what order. I think Heatley will be in middle relief, but if we got into a fourth game, he might be the starter. We've got some options. There are a couple of other guys we feel good about as starters."
Van Horn said Jordan Pratt is penciled in as the closer.
"That's why we might have gone a little longer with him at Vanderbilt," Van Horn said. "We wanted him to pitch through that and get some confidence. Eibner could close, too."
Van Horn said the Hogs worked hard on their bunting the last couple of days after the early exit from Hoover in the SEC tournament.
"We had some things we wanted to cover," he said. "Some of it was bunting. We need to be able to get the ball down. That was something that could have made a difference in some situations in the SEC tournament. So we worked on that.
"And we also wanted to coach them up a bit. We wanted to be positive as coaches and make sure they all knew how much we liked them as players. We do really like this team. We think we've got another month of baseball with them. We just need to get through this weekend.
"You look back at the last stretch, and I know we lost 7 of 9 and if you want to go back and look, it's 10 of 15. But there were a lot of really good games in that stretch. It was against good teams. There was the Sunday game against Auburn that it was not close, but the rest of them were pretty good games that we didn't get some breaks or didn't get a bunt down. And there were some of those that we played really good and didn't have two of our best bats in the middle of the order and were losing a 1 or 2-run game.
"We've always felt good about our pitching. It's been a good staff effort. These guys throw strikes and haven't depended on one guy. We just need to get our bats going a little bit.
"I think I worried a little bit about their mental approach (with Cox and Eibner out) before we went to Vanderbilt. But we won two of three there and they hadn't lost many in their park this year. So that proved to the guys that we could play without them. I feel good about them now after that."
There was one more mental problem. Van Horn thinks some of his players might have been pressing a little bit with the thought of the major league draft on the horizon.
"We talked to the guys about that this weekend," Van Horn said. "I know some of the guys worry about that. It doesn't help them at all. We told them to forget about the draft that all the reports are submitted. We are a week away and nothing that happens is going to really change their position. They've done what they can and it's over now. It's just about going out and having fun, playing the game and supporting each other.
"If they support each other and pull together, good things are going to happen. I think the draft thoughts have hurt us a little the last three or four weeks, but that should be over now."
Van Horn wants to make sure they stay together off the field. Hosting an NCAA regional can lead to distractions off the field with familes coming to town for the weekend.
"In some ways hosting is tough and playing on the road is easier," he said. "You go to a hotel on the road and have everyone together for the weekend. You eliminate some things. It can be tougher on players trying to get tickets for everyone, the girl friends and the families."
So Van Horn made a decision to keep distractions down. He is going to put his team in a hotel for the weekend.
"We haven't done that for the regionals we've hosted (at Arkansas), but I did that at Nebraska," he said. "So we are going to a hotel for this weekend."