Van Horn reflects 1 more time

By: Jeremy Muck
Published: Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn speaks Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, to members of the media about the coming season inside the team's Pitching Development Center at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn speaks Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, to members of the media about the coming season inside the team's Pitching Development Center at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

With the 2019 University of Arkansas baseball season scheduled to begin Feb. 15, Dave Van Horn took one of his final opportunities to reflect on the Razorbacks' 2018 season Monday.

Van Horn was the guest speaker at the Downtown Tip-Off Club's weekly meeting Monday at the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.

The Tip-Off Club is typically a basketball club, but Van Horn has been invited in recent years to talk about his program.

"It's a basketball club, but it's turned into a baseball club today," Van Horn said. "That's exciting."

Last season, Arkansas (48-21) reached its ninth College World Series and advanced to the CWS championship series, where it lost to Oregon State in three games after a foul pop was not caught in Game 2 that would have given the Razorbacks their first national championship.

"We had some heartbreak," Van Horn told the Tip-Off Club crowd. "I don't want to talk about it."

But Van Horn was willing to look back at the rest of the 2018 season in which the Razorbacks earned a share of the SEC West title with Mississippi and hit a school-record 98 home runs.

"What a great team," Van Horn said. "It was a fun team to be around. They won 48 games. There was a lot of preseason hype. I remember standing in [North] Little Rock speaking to this [Tip-Off Club] group last year, and I was asked if we were going to be good. I said, 'We're going to be really good.' And we were."

Despite being co-champs of the SEC West with Ole Miss, Van Horn believed the Razorbacks were better than the Rebels.

"They beat us two out of three in Oxford, so they think they were better than us," Van Horn said. "But we played a much harder schedule than them. I see us as the champs."

This season, Arkansas must replace six starters. The Razorbacks have 20 new players in the program, including infielder/outfielder Matt Goodheart of Magnolia, who played at San Jacinto Community College last season, and freshman pitcher Connor Noland.

Noland, who is also a quarterback at Arkansas, has impressed Razorback coaches so far and is a candidate to be a weekend starter.

"I can tell you this: We love Connor Noland," Van Horn said. "He's got six weeks of throwing and has thrown his first bullpen."

Noland grabbed the attention of Van Horn and new pitching coach Matt Hobbs after he threw a bullpen session in January.

"My pitching coach and I were basically like, 'OK, this guy can be a dude right here,' " Van Horn said. "Why? Because he can throw strikes."

In the preseason polls, the Razorbacks are picked as high as 12th in the USA Today coaches poll. Arkansas opens its season Feb. 15 against Eastern Illinois at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.

"I'm proud of our program right now," Van Horn said. "Our division is going to be so strong this year. The Hogs will be right in the middle of it. We'll be getting after it."

Sports on 02/05/2019

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