FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Arkansas baseball program on Monday released its 2018 schedule, which features a 33-game home slate, including games against former Southwest Conference rivals Texas, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M, as well as a weekend series against Pac-12 foe Southern California.
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn enters his 16th season at the helm of the baseball team and will be looking to build off of last year’s 45-win season, which included an appearance in the SEC Tournament final and an NCAA Regional final at Baum Stadium.
Arkansas has one of the most highly touted teams in the nation going into the 2018 season and much of the attention is on its pitching staff. Pitching coach Wes Johnson enters his second year on Van Horn’s staff and will have plenty of strong arms at his disposal such as Blaine Knight, Isaiah Campbell, and Kacey Murphy.
Knight, who was a 29th round MLB Draft pick last summer by the Texas Rangers, decided to forgo an early pro career to play his junior season. Knight is coming off an eight-win season a year ago where he accumulated 96 strikeouts in 90.2 innings. Over his two seasons, the Bryant, Arkansas native has a career 3.17 ERA with 142 strikeouts, the fourth-highest strikeout total of any returning pitching in the SEC.
Offensively, the Hogs return a potent lineup that includes six of its top eight hitters from a year ago. Shortstop Jax Biggers is back after hitting .338 with four home runs and 37 RBIs, as he was the first Razorback primary shortstop to hit over .300 in a season since Scott Hode in 2005.
Arkansas also returns the services of seniors Luke Bonfield and Carson Shaddy, who both combined for 17 home runs and 89 RBIs last year, as well as catcher Grant Koch, who is coming off a summer playing with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.
Captaining the outfield is freshman All-American Dominic Fletcher. Fletcher was, arguably, the best freshman hitter in the SEC last year with a .291 average, 12 home runs, and 37 RBIs. His 12 long balls was just one off from tying the Arkansas freshman record set by Zack Cox back in 2009, but were the most among all freshman in the SEC.
2018 Schedule By The Numbers
– 12 teams with 35 wins or more in 2017 (Seven with 40 or more)
– 10 NCAA Tournament appearances
– 6 NCAA Super Regional appearances
– 3 College World Series appearances (Florida, LSU, Texas A&M)
– 3 former Southwest Conference (SWC) rivals
– 1 conference tournament champion (LSU)
– 1 NCAA championship (Florida)
Can’t Miss Games At Baum
Razorbacks vs. Bucknell – Feb. 16-18
Arkansas opens its 96th season of competition against the Bison of Bucknell. The opening series will be the first time the two teams have faced each other since the 2014 NCAA Tournament at the Charlottesville Regional. A game that ended in a 10-0 Razorback victory. Arkansas has not lost the opening series to a season since 2001, two years before Van Horn took over as head coach.
Razorbacks vs. Southern California– March 2-4
The Hogs will welcome in a perennial Pac-12 power at the beginning of March when Southern California comes to Baum Stadium for a weekend series. The Razorbacks have only faced the Trojans once in their history, dating back to 1996 in the Lubbock Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
Razorbacks vs. Texas – March 13-14
One of college sports’ biggest rivalries will be renewed on the baseball diamond when the Texas Longhorns face Arkansas in a two-game mid-week series on March 13 and 14. Before Arkansas moved to the Southeastern Conference, the two programs played on an annual basis from 1974 to 1991. Since then, the Longhorns and Razorbacks have only faced each other five times, four coming in the NCAA Tournament. The last time the Longhorns played in Fayetteville was in 1991.
Razorbacks vs. Kentucky – March 16-18
Arkansas opens its SEC schedule against the Kentucky Wildcats, a team that has seen a resurgence since bringing in current head coach Nick Mingione. Last year, the Wildcats won 43 games and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time in school history. Arkansas and Kentucky did not face each other last year, but the Hogs have won three-straight series with the Wildcats dating back to 2013.
Razorbacks vs. Auburn – April 6-8
One of 10 NCAA Tournament teams on the schedule from a year ago, Auburn will make the return visit to Baum Stadium in early April in what could be a crucial series for the SEC Western Division. The Tigers went 37-26 last year and earned a three-seed in the Tallahassee Regional of the NCAA Tournament. Arkansas has won two of its last three series with Auburn, including a three-game sweep in 2016, the last time the Tigers visited Fayetteville.
Razorbacks vs. Missouri State – April 17
Tickets might be hard to find on April 17 when the Missouri State Bears come to town for a single midweek game in April. It will be a rematch of last year’s NCAA Fayetteville Regional final that saw the Bears advance to the Super Regionals, but the Hogs have reloaded its roster and will look to win the latest installment in this rivalry. Arkansas and Missouri State have played at least once every year since 2013, with the series even at 6-6 during that span.
Razorbacks vs. Texas A&M – May 11-13
The Texas A&M Aggies will be the third former SWC rival on Arkansas’ schedule in 2018 coming to Baum Stadium. The Aggies are led by head coach Rob Childress, a former assistant under Dave Van Horn while at Nebraska, and are coming off a 41-win season and a College World Series berth. It’s been a hotly contested matchup between the two programs since Texas A&M joined the SEC. Since 2013, Arkansas has won four of the last five series with the Aggies, but five of the last six games have been decided by four runs or less.
Friday and Saturday SEC Partial plan deposits, season tickets, and group experience deposits are currently available. To renew or order tickets, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com or call the Razorback Ticket Center at 800-982-HOGS (4647) or 479-575-5151.
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