Razorback Baseball Team Starts Fall Practice
Fall is around the corner and the Razorback baseball team began fall practices Sept. 7. After a strong run to end the season and only one win away from the College World Series finals, the Razorbacks are now gearing up in the fall for a repeat trip to Omaha, Neb. in the spring.
The Razorbacks were able to live up to some high expectations last season, finishing the season ranked No. 9 by NCAA Baseball RPI. The 2013 season may be six months away, but coaches and players believe that the fall is crucial to success because it gives the team more time to learn and improve.
They boasted one of the more intimidating pitching staffs in the country, having a team earned run average of 2.83, good for fifth-best in the country. The pitching staff returns most of its talented players from last season, aside from ace D.J. Baxendale, who signed with the Minnesota Twins.
Ryne Stanek will take over as the ace pitcher and the Hogs will again have one of the best bullpens in the country with Barrett Astin and Colby Suggs closing out games.
The coaches may move Astin out of the bullpen and into the starting lineup, but that shouldn’t slow them down. Suggs spent the summer pitching in the Cape Cod League, where he gained valuable experience on the mound, and is looking forward to fall practices to perfect his craft even more.
“Fall is all about learning and perfecting, crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s,” Suggs said.
The infield has the most holes to fill as three of the four starters from last season have moved on. Matt Reynolds, Tim Carver and Bo Bigham all logged many hours in the infield during their time at Arkansas and their leadership will be missed. However, first baseman Dominic Ficociello was a star last season in the field and at the plate and is looking to become even better in the fall.
Head coach Dave Van Horn said that Ficociello will spend a lot of time in the fall practices and scrimmages at second and third base to help him learn the positions and get more experience. But expect to see him at first base come spring time.
“(Ficociello) I feel like, is one of the best defensive first basemen in the country,” Van Horn said.
Sophomore Brian Anderson gained some experience in the outfield as a true freshman last year, and should fill one of the open third base or shortstop positions in the spring.
The fall practices will culminate in the annual Cardinal-White series, a seven-game scrimmage to finish out the fall for the baseball team. The Cardinal-White series schedule will be determined at a later date.
“We do have a lot of questions to answer, more than in the last couple years,” said Van Horn. “But at the same time we have some kids with a lot of experience all the way to the College World Series, so that’s a major plus.”
By the end of fall practice, some of questions about the Hogs might not be answered, but it is a good time to get a feel for how the team will look when the season starts in the spring.