College World Series success provides Hogs with needed downtime

By: Matt Jones
Published: Sunday, June 24, 2018
Arkansas second baseman Carson Shaddy, left, and pitcher Blaine Knight speak during a College World Series news conference Sunday, June 24, 2018, in Omaha, Neb.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas second baseman Carson Shaddy, left, and pitcher Blaine Knight speak during a College World Series news conference Sunday, June 24, 2018, in Omaha, Neb.

— The College World Series will pit two teams that have been on drastically different schedules the past week.

Oregon State enters the series having played five times since last Saturday. The Beavers had to work their way out of the loser's bracket after an opening-game loss to North Carolina, and advanced to the final round with four wins in six days over Washington, North Carolina and twice over Mississippi State.

Arkansas, on the other hand, swept its three games in Omaha and has not played on consecutive days. Since the Razorbacks clinched their super regional with a win over South Carolina on June 11, they have had six, three and two days between their games, and will have three days between their semifinal win over Florida and Monday's championship series opener against Oregon State.

It is a schedule that is foreign to baseball players who are used to playing four or five times each week. While it throws off the players' routines, the downtime has been welcome.

"You know, the end of the season was for us - our last series was at Georgia, Thursday through Saturday. We go straight from Georgia to the SEC Tournament," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "Bottom line, we were on the road for like 11 or 12 days straight. We went back, got to play at home a couple weeks in a row.

"We almost needed a little downtime, to be honest with you. And what we've done is practice has been shorter; just an hour, hour and 15 minutes, working on some things, swinging the bats, taking some ground balls - not trying to reinvent everything."

Since arriving in Omaha, Arkansas practiced on its non-game days every day until Saturday. Following the win over Florida, Van Horn informed the team on the bus back to the hotel that they would have the next day off.

"I think when I told them that on the bus, they were relieved," Van Horn said. "Because if we're feeling it (as coaches), then we know they're feeling it."

In between practices and games, players have filled a lot of their time resting and spending time with family members who have made the trip to Nebraska.

"We really just try to get our bodies right," second baseman Carson Shaddy said. "That's the most important thing."

Arkansas has not had a lot of scheduled team activities in Omaha. They attended the opening ceremonies together on June 15 and several players went on a non-mandatory trip to the Henry Doorly Zoo on Saturday.

"We haven't gone over the top," Van Horn said. "We're not following them around. We give them a curfew. And, again, it's like I told them, 'If I've got to follow you around here, then we shouldn't be here.' And I don't think we would have been here.

"So I think we've had some guys that like to go fishing. They're going to go again today. So whatever keeps you loose."

Casey Martin said he has watched full seasons of Arrow and The Ranch on Netflix since making the trip north.

"It's been nice just to sit back and relax for once," Martin said. "Our legs are definitely tired. I know a lot of our guys are exhausted, but we have three more games, so we're going to push through it."

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