(0-0, 0-0 SEC)
Wright State Raiders
(0-0, 0-0 Horizon League)
Baum Stadium • Fayetteville, Ark.
Razorbacks Baseball Radio Network
Chuck Barrett (play-by-play)
Rick Schaeffer (analyst)
Game 1: Wright State at Arkansas
Fri., Feb. 22, 3:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
AR: 42 James Mahler, RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
WS: 39 Michael Woytek, RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Game 2: Wright State at Arkansas
Sat., Feb. 23, 1:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
AR: 34 Shaun Seibert, RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
WS: 1 Bryce DeWeese, LHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Game 3: Wright State at Arkansas
Fri., Feb. 24, 12:05 p.m. – Baum Stadium
Probable Starting Pitchers
AR: 35 Kendall Korbal, RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
WS: 27 Michael Meintel, RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Diamond Hogs Open 2008 Campaign at Baum Stadium
The Arkansas baseball team opens its 2008 season on Friday, Feb. 22, in the friendly confines of Baum Stadium against Wright State. It is the first season opener at home for the Razorbacks since 2004. The three-game series begins at 3:05 p.m. on Friday and continues on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 1:05 p.m. and then concludes at 12:05 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 24.
All three games can be heard on the Razorback Baseball Radio Network with Chuck Barrett handling the play-by-play duties and Rick Schaeffer as the analyst. It will be the first meeting between the two schools.
Head coach Dave Van Horn begins his sixth year at the helm of the Razorbacks’ program. His club is ranked 35th in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association pre-season poll. The Hogs will feature an inexperienced but talented squad that must replace their entire rotation from a year ago along with the school’s all-time home run leader.
Third baseman Logan Forsythe leads the Hogs offense after hitting a team-best .347 last season with nine home runs and 55 RBI. He also starred on the USA National Team where he proved to be one of the most valuable players starting 28 games and hitting .309.
The Diamond Hogs’ weekend rotation will feature two true freshmen and veteran right-hander Shaun Seibert, who is just 11 months off Tommy John surgery. Rookie right-handed pitcher James Mahler will start the opener while fellow freshman Kendall Korbal will go to the hill on Sunday. Seibert will make his 23rd career start on Saturday, just 338 days after Tommy John surgery ended his 2007 season.
Wight State is led by fourth-year head coach Rob Cooper. The Raiders are coming off of a strong season in 2007 and are picked to win the Horizon League in 2008 by league coaches and Rivals.com.
The Raiders boast infielder Jeremy Hamilton who played with Arkansas’ Logan Forsythe on Team USA during the summer of 2007. Wright State posted a 36-22 record last season, including a second-place finish in Horizon League play with a 21-9 mark.
On the mound, the Raiders will start two freshmen as well with rookie right-hander Michael Woytek starting on Friday and freshman Michael Meintel going on Sunday. Sophomore southpaw Bryce DeWeese will get the call on Saturday.
Leading Off …
• Arkansas begins its 86th year of collegiate baseball this weekend at home vs. Wright State. The Hogs boast 1,752 wins and a .607 winning percentage. It marks the beginning of Dave Van Horn’s sixth season as the UA skipper. He is 201-110 at Arkansas and 522-267 as a division-I head coach.
• Logan Forsythe and Casey Coon are on the Brooks Wallace Award watch list, which goes to the top player in college baseball.
• Shaun Seibert, who injured this right elbow against Kansas last season will return to the mound for the Hogs on Saturday, Feb. 23. The junior right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery on March 22, 2007, and returns to the hill just 11 months after surgery.
• Forsythe was named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list.
• Forsythe is ranked as the No. 43 pro prospect by Baseball America in their top 100 college prospects list.
• Forsythe was also selected first-team pre-season All-SEC by SEBaseball.com. Coon garnered second-team honors in the outfield. SEBaseball.com also tabbed Forsythe and Coon as the third-best 1-2 offensive punch in the SEC.
• Arkansas was picked to finish third in the SEC’s Western Division league coaches and fifth by Baseball America.
• Baseball America also tabbed Forsythe as the best third baseman in the Southeastern Conference.
• Freshman Brett Eibner was the seventh-highest drafted player to come to school after being taken in the fourth round by the Houston Astros (No. 141 overall).
• Arkansas boasts seven players on the 2008 roster who have previously been drafted. Six of those players are new to the Arkansas lineup.
The Hogs in Season Openers
For the first time since 2004, Arkansas opens the college baseball season in the friendly confines of Baum Stadium. The Razorbacks’ last season opener at Baum Stadium came against Louisiana Tech on Feb. 13, 2004. That season also marks the Hogs’ last trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Prior to the last three seasons when the Razorbacks opened on the road, Arkansas has opened its season at home 10 times since 1995.
Arkansas is 37-11 in season openers dating back to the 1960 season and have won 13 straight dating back to the 1994 loss at TCU. Arkansas is also 5-0 in season openers under skipper Dave Van Horn. The Hogs are 33-5 in season openers since 1970, the year Norm DeBriyn took over as the program’s head coach.
UA has not lost a season-opener at home since an extra-innings loss to Oklahoma State on Feb. 21, 1981. The only home opener that the Hogs have lost since was a 5-3 decision to Kansas on Feb. 18, 1994, which came on the heels of a season-opening road trip to TCU.
Scouting the Raiders
Arkansas and Wright State meet for the first time on the baseball diamond this weekend. The Raiders are coached by Rob Cooper who is in his fourth year at the helm of the WSU program. Wright State is coming off of a 36-22 record a year ago and a second-place finish in the Horizon League with a 21-9 mark.
WSU is led by USA National Team member Jeremy Hamilton, who batted .374 with nine home runs and 62 RBI a year ago. He was selected first-team All-Horizon League at first base. Shortstop Justin Parker is also a threat at the plate, hitting .379 last season with five home runs and 30 RBI.
On the mound, the Raiders lost their top three starting pitchers but still return plenty of talent. Their rotation will feature two freshmen with rookie right-hander Michael Woytek starting on Friday and freshman Michael Meintel going on Sunday. Sophomore southpaw Bryce DeWeese will get the start on Saturday.
A Look at the Razorbacks’ Rotation
Friday – James Mahler, RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA) – True freshman right-hander James Mahler is expected to get the nod in the season opener. He features a 90 mph fastball that he has been spotting up well early in spring practice. Mahler’s out pitch is a devastating knucklecurvel ball that he can throw at any point in the count.
Saturday – Shaun Seibert, RHP (0-0, 0.00 ERA) – Shaun Seibert returns to the Hogs rotation almost 11 months to the day since he underwent Tommy John surgery. The right-hander is only throwing between 80-90 percent, but is locating his pitches and will use his experience to his advantage. Seibert boasts a 9-4 career record with a 3.27 ERA in 140.1 innings with 132 strikeouts.
Sunday – Kendall Korball (0-0, 0.00 ERA) – Kendall Korbal is the second true freshman to get the start on the weekend for the Razorbacks. Korbal is just four weeks of arthroscopic but has thrown several bullpens and been cleared to play on the opening weekend of the season. He possesses possibly the best pitchability on the Razorbacks’ staff and a fastball around 90 mph. Korbal’s best trait is his ability to consistently throws four pitches for strikes to either side of the plate.
Forsythe Finds a Home
Forsythe finished an amazing turnaround in 2007 by leading the team with a .347 batting average, nine home runs and a career-best 55 RBI. He was second on the team in slugging percentage at .556, was second on the team in on-base percentage at .431, and led the team with 18 stolen bases. He hit safely in 47 of the Hogs last 59 games and in 26-of-30 SEC games last season.
His play during the season earned him the opportunity to play for Team USA over the summer. Forsythe showed his versatility as he played all over the field and hit over .300 for Team USA.
His glove did not let anyone down either, making play after play at third base. He boasted a .933 fielding percentage at third base last season with eight errors in 119 chances, all coming on throws.
Forsythe Named to Golden Spikes Watch List
Arkansas junior third baseman Logan Forsythe was named to USA Baseball’s pre-season Golden Spikes Award Watch. The release of the watch list marks USA Baseball’s first step toward identifying the top player in college baseball.
The Golden Spikes Watch List features 75 of the nation’s top collegiate players that were nominated by baseball sports information directors across the country.
Injury Bug Bites Diamond Hogs
The Diamond Hogs have been bit by the injury bug leading up to opening day. Arkansas has three starting position players ailing and has lost one promising freshman left-hander for the season.
Sean Jones, who was penciled in to start in center field for the Razorbacks, was hit by a pitch in early February and will miss roughly the first four weeks of the season.
Casey Coon and Tim Smalling are both fighting through slight shoulder injuries and are day-to-day leading up to Friday afternoon’s opener.
True freshman left-hander Drew Smyly has been lost for the season with fractured left elbow. The Little Rock Central product will have screws inserted in the coming weeks and will be ready for 2009.
New Faces Dot Razorback Lineup
Several new faces will be seen on the baseball diamond for the 2008 Diamond Hogs as the season opens. As many as eight newcomers could get starts on the opening weekend, including five true freshmen.
The Hogs will start two true freshmen – James Mahler and Kendall Korbal – on the mound while Andy Wilkins (DH, 1B), Jacob House (1B) and Brett Eibner (OF) have positioned themselves to be penciled into the lineup.
Junior-college transfers should also make an immediate impact for the Razorbacks as shortstop Scott Lyons, outfielder Chase Leavitt and catcher Ryan Cisterna all have a chance to start this weekend for the Hogs.
On the mound even more newcomers are going to make immediate impact with LHP Cliff Springston, RHP Mike Bolsinger, RHP Eibner and RHP Justin Wells.
Arkansas has had a key player on the USA National Team in each of the past two summers. Nick Schmidt was one of the American’s top starting pitchers with a 3-1 record and a 1.31 ERA in 2006 and Logan Forsythe was one of the top hitters last year with a .309 average in 28 starts. Wright State’s Jeremy Hamilton also played to Team USA last summers.
Hogs Picked Third in SEC West by Coaches
The Southeastern Conference coaches voted Arkansas third in the SEC’s Western Division in their 17th-annual preseason poll.
Arkansas garnered 39 points, including two first-place votes to finish behind Ole Miss and Mississippi State in Western-Division voting. The Rebels were picked to win the West with 65 total votes and 10-of-12 first-place votes. The Bulldogs ranked second with 47 points while Auburn was picked fourth (34 votes), LSU fifth with 33 votes and Alabama sixth with 29 points.
Vanderbilt was the SEC’s overall preseason choice and the pick to win the SEC’s Eastern Division. The Commodores garnered five-of-12 votes in the overall SEC Championship voting, edging out Ole Miss (four) and South Carolina (3). Vanderbilt also received seven first-place votes in the SEC East and compiled 62 total votes.
Hitting When it Counts – RISP
A key to the Razorbacks’ offense in 2007 was their hitting with runners in scoring position. Overall, Arkansas is batted .288, but that average was still to .297 with runners on second or third base. Hitting with runners in scoring position is going to be another key for the Razorbacks in 2008. Below is a breakdown of the returning Hogs’ averages with runners in scoring position last season.
Player RISP RBI
Wayne Hrozek .353 (12 for 34) 20
Tim Smalling .341 (15 for 44) 24
Ben Tschepikow .328 (20 for 58) 27
Logan Forsythe .329 (27 for 82) 50
Casey Coon .319 (29 for 91) 70
Jeff Nutt .300 (21 for 70) 41
Hogs Lead Country in Actual Attendance – Again
The NCAA and Southeastern Conference recognize paid attendance as their method of ranking attendance, but Arkansas keeps both an actual attendance and paid attendance. After 29 games at Baum Stadium in 2007 (not including the NCAA Regional) the Hogs led the way once again. The Razorbacks sold 233,350 tickets for an average of 8,047 per game. UA is averaging 5,700 fans per game in actual attendance with a school record 165,298 fans passing through the gates this season.
In 2006, Arkansas set school records in both tickets sold and attendance over 29 games at Baum Stadium, including the NCAA Regional. The Razorbacks sold 206,352 tickets for a 7,116 average (the average is second all time). A record 164,608 fans passed through the gates in actual attendance for an average of 5,676.
In 2005, the Hogs also set a then-school record in actual attendance with 146,902 fans showing up at Baum Stadium. That averages out to 5,247 fans per game and is believed to have led the country.
Baum Stadium is underwent its third expansion since prior to the 2003 season with the addition of 20 luxury suites, over 1,500 chairback seats and an expanded Hog Pen in 2007. Baum Stadium will now features 34 luxury suites, 8,237 chairback seats and a capacity of 10,737 with additional standing room only available.
In an informal survey by the Baton Rouge (La.) Advocate, Arkansas led all SEC schools in actual attendance in 2005 and 2006. Below is a breakdown of both paid and actual attendance at Baum Stadium over the past four seasons.
Year Tickets Sold Actual Attendance
2007 266,270 (8,069) 198,218 (6,007)
2006 206,352 (7,116) 164,608 (5,676)
2005 200,378 (7,156) 146,902 (5,247)
2004 188,753 (4,840) 146,007 (3,743)
2003 100,372 (3,585) 60,510 (2,161)
Razorbacks Selected in the MLB Draft
Arkansas currently has seven players on its roster that have been selected in the Major League Baseball Draft. Below is a breakdown of Razorbacks that chose books over the bucks.
Player Year Round Pick Team
Brett Eibner, RHP 2007 4th 141 Houston Astros
Andy Wilkins, INF 2007 25th 770 Texas Rangers
Mike Bolsinger 2006 34th 1031 Cleveland Indians
Scott Lyons, INF 2007 36th 1099 Boston Red Sox
James Mahler, RHP 2007 42nd 1262 Philadelphia Phillies
Travis Hill, RHP 2005 42nd 1266 Texas Rangers
Ryan Cisterna, C 2006 47th 1391 Kansas City Royals
Ryan Cisterna, C 2007 48th 1351 Washington Nationals
Download: Arkansas Notes vs. Wright State.pdf