Updated: Dec 28, 2019
We're taking a look back and a look ahead at college baseball teams from around the country. Next up are the Arkansas Razorbacks!
In an era where teams around the country are investing in college baseball, the Arkansas Razorbacks have set themselves apart with their excellent facilities, passionate fanbase, and consistent winning ways.
A Look Back at 2019
2019 was another successful season for the Razorbacks, as the team returned to the College World Series. Entering the year at #16 in the preseason poll, Arkansas defied the expectation that 2019 would be a rebuilding year and finished the season ten spots higher than where they started.
Arkansas finished the year 46-20 (20-10) and hosted a Regional, which they swept in convincing fashion, and a Super Regional, where they took down Ole Miss in three games. The Razorbacks’ run eventually ended in Omaha where they ran up against tough Florida State and Texas Tech teams; however, the 2019 season further entrenched Arkansas as one of the modern blue bloods in college baseball.
Bolstered by their always deep roster, Arkansas consistently sends talent to the next level. Seven Razorbacks were drafted in the 2019 MLB Draft, including three in the first five rounds: Dominic Fletcher (75th overall), Isaiah Campbell (76th overall), and Matt Cronin (123rd overall). It will be interesting to see how the departure of talented arms affects the Razorbacks in 2020.
A Look Ahead at 2020
Fan excitement is at an all-time high in Fayetteville—even the Razorbacks’ fall game against Oklahoma drew over 6,000 fans. After coming off back-to-back College World Series appearances, Arkansas will look to stretch that Omaha run to three straight seasons in 2020.
Arkansas will start the season with a seven-game homestand, featuring Eastern Illinois, and a scrappy Gonzaga team before they head to Houston for the Shriners College Classic where they will take on three Big XII foes—Oklahoma, Texas, and Baylor—in the confines of Minute Maid Park. (Check out the full list of 2020 College Baseball Tournaments)
SEC play will start with a bang as the Razorbacks travel to Starkville for an SEC West showdown with Mississippi State. This series could go a long way in determining who wins the West. The first cross-divisional series comes in April when Arkansas will welcome the Florida Gators to Baum-Walker Stadium.
Mid-April will bring an intriguing five-game road trip for the Razorbacks. First Arkansas will head over to the Box to take on LSU before heading up to East Lansing for two midweek games against Michigan State. Arkansas will finish the season with nine straight games against SEC East opponents as the Razorbacks draw South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee from the East.
John’s (@johnny_omaha_) 2020 Prediction: The Razorbacks will end 2020 in Omaha.
It’s going to be hard to replace Isaiah Campbell and Matt Cronin, two of the Razorbacks’ best arms from a year ago, but Arkansas has a lot of talented young arms. Sophomores Connor Noland and Patrick Wicklander should compete for rotation spots once again. Noland won the first game of the Fayetteville Regional and amassed a 4.02 ERA over the year. The Razorbacks also have a few guys returning from Tommy John surgery, including Caleb Bolden who Razorback Head Coach, Dave Van Horn, says will “be one of our best guys next year.”
Arkansas returns the heart of their lineup with talented hitters including Casey Martin and Heston Kjerstad, and even going up against SEC pitching, Arkansas shouldn’t have issues scoring runs. Once again, it looks like the Razorbacks should be a National Championship contender in 2020 and should enter the year in the top ten.
Kyle's (@kylemckelv) 2020 Prediction: The Razorbacks will make it back-to-back-to-back trips to Omaha.
Going further, I think they’ll be one of the last four alive in Omaha. Their offense returns six starters and they return two starting pitchers, among other strong bullpen arms that accounted for 66% of the bullpen innings pitched last year. That would be enough for a team to be competitive anywhere but if you combine it with the fact that these players have loads of post-season experience, it makes this team quite dangerous. They should also compete with 2019 National Champ, Vanderbilt, for the SEC Regular Season crown.
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