Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll.
Led by Van Horn, Team USA opens practice
Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn is the manager for this year's USA collegiate national team.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn and the USA collegiate national baseball team began workouts Thursday in Cary, N.C., in preparation for their summer touring schedule.
Arkansas pitcher Trey Killian is among the 33 players in camp for the team, which will sport a 24-man roster for its international games in The Netherlands and Cuba in July. The team will also play a series of exhibitions in the United States during its 39-day tour.
Van Horn is being assisted by Texas A&M Coach Rob Childress, New Mexico Coach Ray Birmingham and Pepperdine Coach Steve Rodriguez.
Van Horn suggested at his season-ending press conference on June 4 that a current Razorback might be invited to try out for a roster spot, and Killian, a sophomore from Mountain Home, got the call.
“Being selected to try out for Team USA is a big honor,” Killian said in a UA release on Wednesday. “It will be a humbling experience going out there with the best talent in college baseball. I have had a chance to play against a couple of the guys on the team and I’m going to go out there, give it my best shot and hopefully make the team.”
There are currently 18 pitchers listed on the Team USA roster, and the club is expected to travel with a 12-man staff.
Several players on the roster are still with their teams at the College World Series, including Virginia left-handed pitcher Nathan Kirby, Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer and position players Dansby Swanson and Brian Reynolds.
Van Horn, selected to coach the team last year, has engaged in a series of conference calls leading up to the start of team trials.
“I think it’ll be a great experience,” Van Horn said earlier this month. “I’ll get to coach some great kids. I would say probably of the 24 kids, more than half of them or maybe 20 of them will probably play in the big leagues one day, so it should be fun.”
Team USA will play games against Chinese Taipei and Japan in the United States and will begin its exhibitions on June 21 with the Red, White and Blue Tour in cities mostly on the Eastern seaboard.
Killian had a 4-9 record, but pitched with infrequent run support as he amassed a 2.30 earned run average.
“Trey did a tremendous job for us in the SEC this year,” Van Horn said in the UA release. “We had some coaches that really wanted to give him a chance to make the team and I think it is deserving. When you look at his numbers with innings pitched, strikeouts and hits per inning, he is as good as anyone.”
The Razorbacks will travel to the Honkbal-Haarlem Baseball Week in The Netherlands and participate in a five-game friendship series in Cuba.
“Cuba is going to be an experience,” Van Horn said. “We’re going to play the big boys. They’re a bunch of men.”