Two power conference teams from different leagues located this close to each other, it makes perfect sense. One administrator told me today that it’s a done deal on paper that the Cowboys and Razorbacks will be playing. Hopefully that deal is a home-and-home midweek game at each location each season.
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn knows Stillwater well as he formally coached at Nebraska when the Cornhuskers were a Big 12 member. He said he sees a very tough regional this weekend as the Razorbacks start at noon Friday against third seed Oral Roberts.
“I’ve said this since I saw the bracket, but I see a No. 1 and three No. 2’s in this regional,” Van Horn responded to the inquiry as to how tough the regional is. “This is as good of a regional as you’re going to find, as far as balance goes. You’ve got a lot here.
"You’ve got a very experienced team in Oral Roberts, especially with their numbers. They’re second in the country in team batting average, and they’ve got a couple of good starting pitchers. You just look at the numbers, and it’s interesting, to say the least.
"St. John’s has a couple of big-time pitchers. You go around and around. Oklahoma State is talented, obviously, especially with their team ERA and fielding percentage. After playing in the Big 12, they’re battle-tested and ready.”
One Arkansas player ready to play in Stillwater and against the Oklahoma schools represented is pitcher Zach Jackson. The first-team All-SEC reliever is from Berryhill, Okla., just outside of Tulsa. The right-hander is 5-0 with six saves in 20 appearances and sports a 2.25 ERA and opposing hitters have a .199 average against the big Oklahoma native.
“It’s exciting,” Jackson said. “I’m definitely glad about where we ended up. Coming up against Oral Roberts and Oklahoma State… Oral Roberts is five minutes from my house, and with Oklahoma State, a lot of kids that I grew up playing with were on that team. I’m excited. It is kids I haven’t seen play since I got to college. I’ll get to see them this weekend and kind of know what we’re up against.”
Of course, Oklahoma State has junior Conor Costello, who started out at Arkansas as a freshman. He told us earlier this week that he can’t wait to get the regional started and maybe square off against his former school at some point this weekend.