Arkansas Baseball Begins Practice Thursday; Ba
BY ANDRES FOCIL
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas baseball team will hit the field in its first full-squad practice of the new year Thursday afternoon as the 2003 season opener against Missouri Southern draws near.
For the first time in the last four decades, the Razorbacks begin a season with a new head coach. Dave Van Horn took over following the retirement of Norm DeBriyn who guided the Hogs for past 33 seasons.
A former player and graduate assistant coach under DeBriyn in the mid 1980s, Van Horn spent the last five years at Nebraska where he amassed a record of 214-92 (.699). Van Horn led the Cornhuskers to back-to-back NCAA College World Series appearances in 2001 and 2002 and won three Big 12 Tournament titles and one Big 12 Conference championship.
Now in his first season as head coach with the Razorbacks, Van Horn is eagerly awaiting Thursday’s practice and the upcoming season.
“I am looking forward to getting everybody here as a group tomorrow,” Van Horn said. “I think all the coaches have been waiting for that day to get here and it is finally here. The players reported back in pretty good shape after the break for Christmas and we were very happy to see that. We are going to push them and really get after it over the next couple of weeks.”
With snow and ice in the forecast for Thursday, Van Horn said the Hogs will likely move indoors for the first practice of the year.
“It looks like we will be inside because of the weather, so we will put some work in on our coverages,” Van Horn said. “We’ll work on our first-to-third drills, our bunt coverage assignments and our rundown drills.”
The Razorbacks’ season opener against Missouri Southern is just 25 days away with the game slated for Feb. 9. Arkansas will host the Lions in newly renovated Baum Stadium which had 2,600 chairback seats installed to increase capacity to 5,900.
The new seats take the place of the burms which ran down the foul lines, with 1,300 seats going down each line.
Baseball America released its 2003 poll of the best collegiate baseball stadiums and had Baum Stadium ranked second best in the nation.
Division I baseball coaches ranked the stadiums on the following criteria: aesthetics, facilities (dugout, locker rooms, extra cages/bullpens, etc.), fan amenities, playing conditions and tradition.
Plainsman Park, home of the Auburn Tigers, was voted the best in the country, edging out Baum Stadium by a score of 170-119.
“I think it’s a complement to our ballpark and our program to be considered the second best facility in the NCAA,” Van Horn said. “We are currently in the process of making some renovations with the seats and we have already enclosed the batting cages. We are also going to add a couple of skyboxes following the 2003 season and begin work on a new surface in the next couple of years.”
Baum Stadium was ranked the No. 1 facility in the nation in Baseball America’s first poll conducted in 1998.
Votes in parenthesis – Points
1. Auburn (44) – 170
2. Arkansas (32) – 119
3. Baylor (24) – 88
4. Nebraska (23) – 79
5. LSU (26) – 79
6. Mississippi State (30) – 70
7. Wichita State (15) – 51
8. Texas A&M (14) – 45
9. Rice (12) – 43
10. Georgia Tech (15) – 42
11. Stanford (12) – 40
12. Florida State (14) – 36
13. Arizona State (11) – 35
14. Georgia (12) – 34
15. Hawaii (13) – 33
16. Clemson (12) – 33
17. San Diego State (9) – 30
18. Fresno State (9) – 27
19. Florida (9) – 25
20. South Carolina (7) – 24
Sports Category :