Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Forecast unfavorable as big series nears
University of Arkansas pitcher Jalen Beeks fires a pitch against Alabama at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville March 21.
FAYETTEVILLE Mother Nature could affect one of Arkansas' showcase baseball games of the year.
The Razorbacks are scheduled to host No. 2 South Carolina tonight at Baum Stadium. The National Weather Service in North Little Rock forecasts a high chance for severe storms throughout the state tonight, including the Fayetteville area.
"I expect that we will see some reports of very large hail (golf ball size or larger), damaging winds, and at least a few tornadoes today and this evening," NWS warning coordination meteorologist told ArkansasOnline. "At least one or two tornadoes reaching EF2 or greater intensity could occur."
Tonight's game is part of ESPN's Thursday Night SEC Baseball Game of the Week series. It is scheduled to be televised by ESPNU and gives Arkansas' program a chance to showcase its facilities to a national audience.
Tonight's game is one of two scheduled to be televised nationally at Baum Stadium this season. Arkansas' game against Vanderbilt on Easter Sunday, April 20 is scheduled to be shown on ESPN2.
Following Wednesday's 6-4 loss to Nebraska, Razorbacks coach Dave Van Horn said he was hopeful tonight's forecast turns out like the one last Friday when Arkansas' opener at Mississippi State was postponed because of the threat of severe weather.
"Last weekend there was supposed to be lightning and rain, and it never showed up," Van Horn said.
"I hope it doesn't rain. Whenever you lose you want to get back on the field as soon as you can to try and get a win."
If tonight's game is postponed, forecasts for Friday and Saturday appear more favorable. Per SEC rules, all three games in the series must be completed by Saturday.
Arkansas is 18-11 overall and 4-5 in SEC play entering the series against South Carolina. The Gamecocks are 25-3 overall and 6-3 in conference play.
The Razorbacks swept South Carolina last season on the road.