Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas-Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Razorback Baseball Notebook:
Farris won't return to Diamond Hogs
Arkansas second baseman Jordan Farris begins to round the bases after hitting a two-run home run Saturday, April 20, 2013, during the third inning of play against Texas A&M at Baum Stadium.
FAYETTEVILLE Jordan Farris, who started 26 games at second base for Arkansas last season, won't return to the Razorbacks' program next season.
Farris was dismissed from the program prior to the start of the fall semester for disciplinary reasons, coach Dave Van Horn said Tuesday. Van Horn didn't elaborate on the reason for the dismissal.
As a freshman, Farris batted .222 with three home runs and 20 RBIs. The Ventura, Calif. was one one of the team's best hitters early in the Southeastern Conference season, but struggled offensively toward the end of the year.
Farris will play next season at a junior college in Oxnard, Calif., Van Horn said.
With Farris' departure, Arkansas will have to replace three starting infielders in 2014. First baseman Dominic Ficociello forewent his final season of eligibility to enter the MLB Draft and third baseman Jacob Mahan graduated.
Returning position players Brian Anderson, Brett McAfee and Joe Serrano, and junior college transfer Bobby Wernes are candidates to fill vacant positions in the infield. McAfee started the majority of last season at short stop, but could also play second or third base, Van Horn said.
Eric Fisher, the only of the Razorbacks' 11 drafted players to turn down a professional contract earlier this year, is the leading candidate to start at first base.
The Razorbacks are scheduled to begin their 45-day fall practice period Friday at Baum Stadium. All 28 practices are open to the public.
Extra game scheduled for California
Arkansas will play two games against California during a nonconference trip early next season.
The Razorbacks will play the Bears as part of the three-day Cal Tournament, which also includes Tulane and San Francisco, and again on a Monday before returning home. The games, which were originally scheduled to be played at AT&T Park in San Francisco, will now likely be played on Cal's campus in Berkley, Van Horn said.
Playing the Pac-12 Bears twice on the road could provide a boost in the Ratings Performance Index (RPI) for the Razorbacks. Arkansas was denied a bid to host an NCAA regional last season in part because its low RPI ranking and one of the worst nonconference strengths of schedule in the country.
"For both of us, it's definitely RPI related," Van Horn said. "Plus, it's convenient because we're there."
Arkansas last played at Cal in 2009, winning two of three against the Bears. Cal is scheduled to play four games at Baum Stadium in 2015.
In addition to the California trip, Arkansas has weekend nonconference dates scheduled next season against Appalachian State, Eastern Illinois and South Alabama. Among the Razorbacks' midweek nonconference opponents are Nebraska, UNLV and Missouri State.
Arkansas will also play a rare Monday home game next season against IUPUI, Van Horn said. The Razorbacks' full schedule will be released later this year.
Arkansas won't play Oklahoma next season, Van Horn said.
The Sooners and Razorbacks were scheduled to play last year in Fayetteville, but their game was rained out. It was the second time in three years a scheduled game between the teams at Baum Stadium wasn't played because of inclement weather.
Arkansas played at Oklahoma in the 2010 and 2012 regular seasons. Van Horn said the one-game nonconference series against the Sooners could resume in 2015.
"They need to come here," Van Horn said. "It'd be nice if we played them here again."