TUCSON, Ariz. – The Arkansas baseball team is ranked No. 3 in Collegiate Baseball Magazine’s NCAA Division I Preseason Poll released on Tuesday.
Fresh off a 45-win season and the 28th NCAA Regional appearance in school history, the Razorbacks enter their 16th season under the guidance of head coach Dave Van Horn as one of the most highly touted teams in the nation. It’s the highest preseason ranking for Arkansas since being ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball in 2013.
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.
On the mound, Arkansas returns the heart of its pitching staff in preseason All-American Blaine Knight along with redshirt sophomore Isaiah Campbell, junior Kacey Murphy, and junior Jake Reindl. Entering his second year as the Arkansas pitching coach, Wes Johnson hopes to continue seeing the pitching success the Razorbacks had last year, which combined for a 3.61 team ERA and a school-record 619 strikeouts.
13 teams ranked in the Collegiate Baseball Top 40 are on the Arkansas schedule, seven from the top 25. Top-ranked and defending national champion Florida will go up against the Hogs on March 23-25 in Gainesville, while Texas Tech (No. 5), Kentucky (No. 8), South Carolina (No. 19), and Missouri State (No. 22) will all visit Baum Stadium during the year. Other notable road trips include games at LSU (No. 10), Mississippi State (No. 13), and Ole Miss (No. 38).
Arkansas is scheduled to open the 2018 season against Bucknell on Friday, Feb. 16 with first pitch at 3 p.m. at Baum Stadium. Season tickets, mini-plan, and group tickets are now on sale through the Razorback Ticket Office.
2018 Collegiate Baseball Magazine NCAA Division I Baseball Preseason Poll
|Rank||Team (2017 Final Record)||Points|
|2||Oregon State (56-6)||494|
|4||Florida State (46-23)||489|
|5||Texas Tech (45-17)||484|
|7||North Carolina (49-14)||479|
|11||Dallas Baptist (42-21)||470|
|12||Cal State Fullerton (39-24)||469|
|13||Mississippi State (40-27)||465|
|17||South Alabama (40-21)||456|
|19||South Carolina (35-25)||450|
|20||Miami (FL) (32-27)||448|
|22||Missouri State (43-20)||443|
|23||NC State (36-25)||440|
|25||Southern Miss (50-16)||435|
|27||Oklahoma State (30-27)||429|
|29||Georgia Tech (27-28)||423|
|31||San Diego (35-18-1)||417|
|32||Sam Houston State (44-23)||414|
|33||Texas A&M (41-23)||412|
|34||Kent State (37-18)||410|
|38||Ole Miss (32-25)||398|