Thu April 18, 2024

By Lance Hawley

Sports Razorbacks

Arkansas Weekend Series Preview vs South Carolina

Arkansas Baseball Razorbacks Baseball Wps
Arkansas Weekend Series Preview vs South Carolina
By Otis Kirk

FAYETTEVILLE -- No. 2 Arkansas will now hit the road again for SEC action with No. 20 South Carolina up next.

Arkansas (32-5, 12-3) lost its first series of the season last weekend at Alabama. They did manage to sweep a good Texas Tech team at home on Tuesday and Wednesday. South Carolina (26-11, 8-7) is 18-4 at home so this won't be an easy task for the Hogs. Dave Van Horn knows the Gamecocks will be ready for his Razorbacks.

"Well, obviously those guys are veteran hitters and they all have power, too," Van Horn said. "It’s not like they’re just hitting for an average or getting on base, slapping it all over the place. They’re hitting the ball over your head. They’re all dangerous. Yeah, you can’t really look past one to get to the other. Obviously we haven’t seen them in person. Just watching video and watching some live games when they’re playing. And then going off of what we know about them from playing them last year. We’ll revisit all that stuff starting tonight and tomorrow we’ll get out of town and work on them Thursday, as well, and Friday morning before we play."

Right fielder Ethan Petry leads the team with 15 home runs, 38 runs batted in and .323 batting average. Catcher Cole Messina has hit 10 out of the park along with knocking in 33 runs and batting .291. Left fielder Kennedy Jones has six home runs, plated 26 runners and hitting .303.

Van Horn said he will go with Hagen Smith, Mason Molina and Brady Tygart against South Carolina. He was asked if good to go there with momentum?

"They’re really good, tough place to play," Van Horn said. "They’re good at home, it’s going to be warm on the first day, really warm. Kind of cool down from there. I’m glad we got to play in some warm weather today and last night. Yeah, it’s like all the SEC venues. It’s tough to win on the road. You’ve got to go there and you got to play hard and play smart and when you get a chance to score, you got to score. We know what’s ahead of us."

Two players who have played their way into more action is Peyton Holt and Jayson Jones, who hit well against Texas Tech. Holt was replaced at third by Jared Sprague-Lott, but was given a chance in the outfield and has taken off with it. Van Horn was asked if Holt will be in left field for this series?

"Maybe in center," Van Horn said. "Yeah he’ll be in the lineup."

Holt is second on the team behind Peyton Stovall hitting .324. Jones started the season in left field, but then struggled at the plate. After two starts and good showings against Texas Tech Van Horn was asked if he had played his way back into action?

"Especially against maybe some left-handed pitching," Van Horn said. "I thought he played good, played hard, had some good at bats. Had really good at bats off the lefties. And, you know, had a couple of pretty good at bats last night, obviously, with those doubles. It’s good to get another guy in the mix and it brings a little power, too. A little different."

Van Horn said he expects to have right fielder Kendall Diggs back this weekend. He has battled some nagging injuries and didn't play in either Texas Tech game.

Stovall leads the team with a batting average of .327. He has six home runs and 24 runs batted in. He talked about the midweek games opposed to the SEC games.

“Midweeks are for getting some guys going if they struggled offensively at the plate over the last weekend," Stovall said. "Just to get their confidence back. It was great that we were able to play a really good team in the midweek. It’s going to be fun this weekend. I think we need to play better on the road. We haven’t necessarily shown that this year. It’s another opportunity to go on the road. It’s going to be fun. Going into hostile environments. South Carolina has a good team and they have really good players. We’re looking forward to it.”

Arkansas and South Carolina will start at 6 p.m. on Friday. The Saturday game is 2 p.m. and then 12:30 on Sunday.