Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
Fisher’s having a smashing time
Arkansas batter Eric Fisher rounds the basses after a solo home run in the third inning of Wednesday afternoon's game against Northwestern State at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas first baseman Eric Fisher has more home runs in the past nine games than the Razorbacks’ team leaders had all of last season.
Fisher, a redshirt junior from Spring, Texas, hit his fifth home run in a nine-game stretch to help the No. 24 Razorbacks bash Northwestern (La.) State 15-3 on Wednesday before an announced crowd of 1,979 at Baum Stadium. Four of Fisher’s home runs have been against SEC teams - three at LSU and one against Vanderbilt.
Last season Brian Anderson and Tyler Spoon led the Razorbacks with four home runs each.
Fisher has a team-high seven home runs in 150 at-bats this season after having two home runs in 157 at-bats in his first two seasons.
“He’s an older kid and he’s confident,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “When he puts a good swing on the ball and makes solid contact, it’s getting out of the park.”
AUBURN AT ARKANSAS
WHEN 6:35 p.m. Friday
WHERE Baum Stadium, Fayetteville
RECORDS Arkansas 27-16, 9-9 SEC. Auburn 23-19, 7-11.
Fisher went 2 for 5 Wednesday and drove in 5 runs, including a two-run home run in third inning on a first-pitch fastball from Evan Tidwell after Anderson walked.
“Brian was joking with me,” Fisher said. “He was like, ‘Yeah, he was all worried about me at first base so he threw a good pitch.’
“I just kind of saw it and put a good swing on it. I knew it was going out.”
The home run by Fisher, a left-handed hitter, cleared the right-field wall with plenty of room to spare.
“He got the barrel out there with extension and it just jumped out of here against the wind,” Van Horn said. “He’s just so strong.”
Fisher, 6-3 and 210 pounds,said he’s using his legs to drive the ball and putting good swings together consistently.
“I’m hitting the bottom half of the ball and it’s getting out,” he said. “Obviously, I still have bad at-bats here and there, but overall every time up at the plate I feel good and feel confident about myself.
“I think it’s taking me a long way.”
Anderson, a junior second baseman, went 2 for 3 to raise his batting average to .333. He hit a two-out, three-run home run in the fourth inning off of Joey Parrack on a shot down the left-field line that landed in the Razorbacks’ bullpen.
“I was just looking for something up in the zone I could handle,” Anderson said. “A guy hung a slider and I was able to put a decent swing on it. The wind almost pushed it foul, but it snuck in there and I was able to get a few RBI out of it.”
Van Horn said he initially thought Anderson’s home run would go for a double off the wall.
“It just screamed out of here,” Van Horn said. “I didn’t know if the umpires knew what to call, but the ball landed in the bullpen and it’s got to be fair.
“That would have been my argument if they called it foul. It disappeared. The ball got out of here in about a second.”
Anderson, who has four home runs this season, marveled at Fisher’s recent power surge and his calmness at the plate waiting for a pitch to smash.
“It looks like a beach ball to him,” Anderson said. “It’s nice having a guy on the team that you know can hit it out of any park at any time. That’s what we have with Eric. He can drive the ball to both sides of the field and he’s hitting off-speed and fastballs.
“I think it’s definitely a challenge for other teams that they’re going to have to try and figure out how to get him out, because not a lot of people are doing it right now.”
The Razorbacks (27-16) had 13 hits Wednesday, as they did in their 8-1 victory over Northwestern State (22-19) on Tuesday night.
Arkansas center fielder Tyler Spoon, batting lead off, went 2 for 5 on Wednesday. Catcher Jake Wise, batting eighth, went 2 for 4 and drove in 2 runs. Nine Razorbacks had at least one hit, and the team had seven walks.
“It seems like there’s not really a top and a bottom to our lineup,” Anderson said. “Everyone seems to be getting on base. So that’s a good sign for us that hopefully our offense is starting to click alittle bit.
“We’re starting to mesh together and kind of realize our identity and know that we can score runs.”
Arkansas has hit 10 home runs in its past 11 games after hitting 9 in its first 32.
“I think our guys are just getting in the rhythm of the season,” Anderson said. “We’ve seen a lot more pitches now and it’s warmer out.
“We’re more confident and more comfortable at the plate.”
Sports, Pages 17 on 04/24/2014