Claremore Daily Progress


January 27, 2013

Hogs' Van Horn hopes to deliver on No. 1 ranking

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Dave Van Horn isn't about to complain about Arkansas being ranked No. 1 in several preseason college baseball polls.

That said, the Razorbacks coach isn't putting all that much stock in the early ranking, either - preferring to "hang around the top 10 all year'' in advance of postseason play.

Arkansas, fresh off its third College World Series appearance in Van Horn's 10 seasons as coach, opened practice Friday in advance of its season opener against Western Illinois on Feb. 15. The Razorbacks did so as the top-ranked team in a pair of preseason polls.

They are No. 3 in the Baseball America poll, and each of the high rankings show Van Horn a level of respect for a program that was one win away last season from playing for the national championship against eventual champion Arizona.

"It's exciting for our whole team and our program,'' Van Horn said. "It's an honor ... I feel like nationally the program is highly respected now.''

Arkansas was 46-22 last season, doing so behind one of the top pitching staffs in the country. The Razorbacks compiled a team ERA of 2.83, the second best in school history and lowest since 1976, and they won the Houston Regional and Baylor Super Regional to reach the College World Series.

Much of that staff returns this season for Arkansas, including junior right-hander Ryan Stanek, who was 8-4 with a 2.82 ERA in 17 starts for the Razorbacks last season.

While Stanek is expected to anchor the rotation, Van Horn once again expects to field plenty of pitching depth. He plans to begin the season with four quality starters, including returners Barrett Astin (1.99 ERA in 58 2/3 innings) and Randall Fant (3.27 ERA in 52 1/3 innings).

Also, Van Horn said freshman Trey Killian performed well during the fall and is expected to play a large role as a freshman - perhaps keeping Astin to remain in the bullpen, where he had 11 saves last season.

"If we can score some runs, we feel like we have a chance to win a lot of games if we can get to the sixth inning with a lead,'' Van Horn said.

Offense was one of the few weakness last season for the Razorbacks, who finished 170th in the country in runs per game (5.2).

They enter this season with a vastly different look on offense, particularly in the infield - where they must replace three starters. That includes third baseman Matt Reynolds, who was drafted in the second round by the New York Mets after hitting a team-best .323 with seven home runs and 45 RBIs last season.

One notable change is that former first baseman Dominic Ficociello, who hit .290 last season after hitting 50 points higher as a freshman, is switching to second base.

Van Horn said he's confident the offense will improve this season, regardless of how the lineup shapes up. He also said he'll place a priority on defense to back up the pitching staff, and he's confident the veteran group will find a way to win - even against the rugged Southeastern Conference, which boasts five teams in Baseball America's top 10.

"We're a little inexperienced, but there are guys pushing each other,'' Van Horn said. "Over the past couple of years, if a guy was struggling at the plate, we just kind of stuck with him.

"Now he might have to sit down a game or two and watch and try to get things straightened out and give another guy a chance.''


Text Only
  • DSC_0016web.jpg District Champions!

    District champions ... Enough said!
    Claremore freshman forward Olivia Maulsby converted a game-winning header with 1:22 remaining to lead the No. 4-ranked Lady Zebras past No. 5 Skiatook, 2-1 Tuesday night in Metro Lakes Conference play at Lantow Field.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • DSC_0433web.jpg SOCCER: Bulldogs spoil ‘Senior Night’ for Zebras

    Claremore senior goalkeeper Sam Lillie made the most of his first and last varsity start Tuesday night against Skiatook on Senior Night at Lantow Field.
    For 40 minutes, Lillie was flawless in the goal, allowing only one goal and making several tenacious stops against the fiery Bulldogs.
    The second-half, however, told a different story as No. 3 Skiatook scored four goals and enjoyed a 5-0 win over the No. 15 Zebras.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Berryhill’s White strikes out 17, tosses no-hitter over No. 1 Verdigris

    Top-ranked Class 3A Verdigris got White-washed by 4A No.3 Berryhill on Tuesday night.
    In a battle of 2013 state champions, Chiefs’ ace Nick White — a future Oklahoma State pitcher —  fired a no-hitter with 17 strikeouts, igniting a 5-0 victory over the Cardinals.

    April 23, 2014

  • Stilwell’s Lea signs with RSU men's basketball

    Rogers State University men's basketball head coach Justin Barkley announced the addition of standout center Matt Lea for the 2014-15 season.

    April 23, 2014

  • HANSLOVANweb.jpg SOCCER: No. 2 Lady Cards roll past Oologah

    Verdigris senior forward Caitlyn Hanslovan tallied another ‘hat trick’ in her illustrious Lady Cardinals soccer career Tuesday night at Oologah.
    The three goals by Hanslovan soared the second-ranked Lady Cardinals past Oologah, 5-0 in non-conference play at Mustangs Stadium.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • 5 Claremore HS tennis players earn all-conference

    The Claremore High School boys and girls varsity tennis programs had five players receive Metro Lakes all-conference recognition.

    April 23, 2014

  • SEC MEN'S BB: Johnson, Poythress returning to Kentucky

    Kentucky's frontcourt will bring back size and experience next season after freshman center Dakari Johnson and sophomore forward Alex Poythress announced they would return.

    April 23, 2014

  • NBA PLAYOFFS: Grizzlies look to keep home edge against Thunder

    The Grizzlies are happy to be back in Memphis, where they finished the regular season by winning a franchise-record 14 straight games.
    They brought home-court advantage with them.
    To guard Mike Conley, that ratchets up the pressure even more. It's time for the Grizzlies to protect the place they call the Grindhouse.

    April 23, 2014

  • NBA PLAYOFFS: Warriors, Clippers to meet in Oakland for Game 3

    Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson sat on the scorer's table at Oracle Arena on Wednesday morning. He gazed around the building and tried to envision what it will look and sound like when the Warriors host the Los Angeles Clippers for Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Thursday night.

    April 23, 2014

  • Arkansas' Beeks among SEC pitchers having banner season

    Now more than ever, the key to success in the Southeastern Conference is pitching.
    The league has the lowest ERA in the country, and aces abound as postseason play approaches next month.
    LSU's Aaron Nola (7-1, 0.88 ERA), Arkansas' Jalen Beeks (5-3, 1.49) and Mississippi's Chris Ellis (5-0, 1.72) are among those dominating almost every time they take the mound.

    April 23, 2014