Countdown to Diamond Hogs: Batting Lineup
The Razorback baseball team that finished last season with a College World Series appearance hit .271 as a team.
The Hogs will need to hit at least that well this year to compete in a Southeastern Conference, which head coach Dave Van Horn said might be the toughest group of teams in all of his time at Arkansas.
The batting lineup is an important part of delivering another high team batting average.
“I could write a lineup right now, but there’s a few kids that are right there,” head coach Dave Van Horn said to media Friday.
The biggest difference between this year’s team and team’s of the past is depth, Van Horn said.
“There are guys pushing each other. 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,” Van Horn said.
Junior Dominic Ficociello hit .335 as a freshman, but fell into a sophomore slump last season, and hit only .290.
“I think this year he’s a little more on a mission. Last year, he swung at a lot of bad pitches. You’ve got to stay in the zone. If he wants to hit he needs to stay in the zone,” Van Horn said.
During the fall season, Van Horn moved Ficociello from first to second, something that gave many Razorback fans a scare.
“I think he’s very comfortable at second base. He was a good shortstop in high school,” Van Horn said.
The reason for the move was to get another strong bat in the lineup. The spot at first base could be filled by freshman Isaac Hellbusch or senior Jacob Mahan, Van Horn said.
Another freshman infielder that Van Horn will look to fit in the lineup from time to time is Willie Schwanke.
“He knows the zone. He doesn’t swing at a lot of stuff out of the zone, which gets him in some positive counts and he gets a good pitch to hit,” Van Horn said.
At this time, sophomore Brian Anderson has earned the third base spot, but has also been working in the outfield.
Rounding out the infield, sophomore Brett McAfee has earned the starting job at shortstop.
“He’s got some seriously good feet, he’s quick as a cat,” Van Horn said.
“I see him hitting down in the order early in this year and if he gets it going a little bit I can move him to the top. He’s a guy that I think is going to hit a lot of doubles,” Van Horn added.
In the outfield, sophomore Joe Serrano will likely be the starting left fielder.
Senior Matt Vinson and redshirt junior Jacob Morris are in competition for the starting spot in center field. Vinson is the preferred bat to have in the lineup, but Morris is much better defensively.
“Morris is a great center fielder, he may be the best in the country. I think Morris has big league defensive skills. He cold play in the big leagues in center field right now, that’s how good he is. With his arm and his jumps and his speed and his range, he’s the total package,” Van Horn said.
If Morris doesn’t start in center field, he will be a defensive replacement late in games.
Freshman Tyler Spoon will be the starting right fielder and will hit in the top of the order, Van Horn said.