It's a start: Experience varies for Hogs’ rotation

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2019
Arkansas pitcher Connor Noland warms up Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, during practice at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas pitcher Connor Noland warms up Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, during practice at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Isaiah Campbell isn't surprised Connor Noland is joining him in the University of Arkansas' pitching rotation for this weekend's season-opening series against Eastern Illinois.

"Not at all," Campbell said. "Connor came in here after football and just worked hard, and his stuff looks like how it should be on the weekends.

"Electric fastball, really good off-speed stuff, and he's just a competitor. He's out there, and he's not scared of anything. He proved what he can do, and he got the start."

Campbell, a redshirt junior right-hander and team captain with an 8-8 career record in 102 innings, will start Friday against Eastern Illinois at Baum-Walker Stadium.

Noland, a freshman right-hander from Greenwood who also is a quarterback for Arkansas, will start Saturday.

"He's earned it," Razorbacks sophomore right fielder Heston Kjerstad said. "He's showed us what he's got, and we're excited about it. He's going to help us out."

Junior right-hander Jacob Kostyshock, who pitched 19⅓ innings over the previous two seasons, will make his first career start Sunday.

"Excitement and pride," Kostyshock said of his reaction to starting in the opening series. "It's something I've been working toward for a very long time, and I'm really happy to take this role."

Campbell said Noland doesn't pitch like a freshman.

"It looks like he's been here for three years, like a junior in his draft year," Campbell said. "You don't see him as a freshman.

"He just gets after people, attacks them. He throws his best stuff every time and it's showed. So now he's pitching on Saturdays for us."

Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said he's been impressed by Noland's overall game.

"I knew his stuff was going to be good," Van Horn said. "But it's all the little things, like holding runners. He picked a runner off first the other day. Fielding his position, he's been outstanding so far. He's fairly quick to the plate. Controlling the running game."

Noland's command of his pitches after playing football, Van Horn said, also stands out.

"Since his high school career ended, it's been a football," Van Horn said. "And to pick up a little white ball and be able to throw it where you want it, to me that's really impressive."

Kostyshock believes playing two sports resulted in Noland maturing quickly and gaining a spot in the rotation.

"Honestly, I think his experience with football helped a lot," Kostyshock said. "He's been in front of a lot of people, so there's no pressure for him. His stuff on the mound is awesome. He came out and he looked like he was an experienced, veteran guy. It was crazy to watch him play.

"We all expected him to come in and be pretty good, but I think what he did this spring kind of caught us off guard. We were like, 'Wow, you're really good.' "

Kostyshock pitched well last summer in the Northwoods League in Fond Du Lac, Wis., and it carried over to fall and preseason practice with Arkansas.

"It was pretty huge," Kostyshock said of how he progressed in the summer. "It made me trust my stuff and who I was as a pitcher.

"I was able to really establish fastballs, and I think that's where I was lacking the most."

Kostyshock, 6-4, has his weight up to 180 pounds after being 155 as a true freshman.

"I plan on adding some more," Kostyshock said. "I want to be 190 by the season's end. But I'm pretty comfortable where I am."

Campbell said Kostyshock has transformed his body through weightlifting and plenty of eating.

"He just eats all the time," Campbell said. "Whenever he has the chance to eat, he's eating. It's shown in his velocity. It got a little tick up."

The starters will be on a limit of about 70 to 75 pitches this weekend.

"If it goes good, they could go four to five [innings]," Van Horn said. "Then we'll get them. That's what we're looking at."

Junior center fielder Dominic Fletcher said he's confident about the rotation.

"Isaiah was kind of a given on Friday," Fletcher said. "He had a really good year last year. A little bit of a slow start, but at the end he really picked it up. He's going to be huge for us this year.

"Then Connor came in this spring from football and showed a lot of maturity and dominated these last couple weeks. That's really awesome to see him in there.

"Kosty has really developed since his freshman year. So I think they'll all have really good years."

Friday's game will be Campbell's 24th career start for the Razorbacks, but his first as their No. 1 guy.

"It's going to be awesome," Campbell said. "Pitching on Friday for Arkansas is a big deal, especially in the SEC. You know you're going to have to bring your best every week because the other team's going to be pitching their best."

Arkansas baseball schedule


Friday Eastern Illinois 3 p.m.

Saturday Eastern Illinois 2 p.m.

Sunday Eastern Illinois 1 p.m.

Feb. 21 at Southern Cal 9 p.m.

Feb. 22 at Southern Cal 8 p.m.

Feb. 23 at Southern Cal 8 p.m.

Feb. 27 Memphis 3 p.m.

March 1 Stony Brook 3 p.m.

March 2 Stony Brook 3 p.m.

March 3 Stony Brook 1 p.m.

March 5 UNC Charlotte 3 p.m.

March 6 UNC Charlotte 3 p.m.

March 8 Louisiana Tech 6 p.m.

March 9 Louisiana Tech 1 p.m.

March 10 Louisiana Tech 1 p.m.

March 12 Western Illinois 6:30 p.m.

March 13 Western Illinois 3 p.m.

March 15 Missouri^ 6:30 p.m.

March 16 Missouri^ 2 p.m.

March 17 Missouri^ 1:30 p.m.

March 19 at Texas 6:30 p.m.

March 20 at Texas 6:30 p.m.

March 22 at Alabama^ 6 p.m.

March 23 at Alabama^ 2 p.m.

March 24 at Alabama^ 1 p.m.

March 26 at Missouri State 6:30 p.m.

March 29 Ole Miss^ 6:30 p.m.

March 30 Ole Miss^ 6:30 p.m.

March 31 Ole Miss^ 1:30 p.m.

April 2 UALR 6:30 p.m.

April 5 at Auburn^ 6:30 p.m.

April 6 at Auburn^ 6 p.m.

April 7 at Auburn^ 2 p.m.

April 9 Oral Roberts 6:30 p.m.

April 12 at Vanderbilt^ 7 p.m.

April 13 at Vanderbilt^ 8 p.m.

April 14 at Vanderbilt^ 1 p.m.

April 16 UAPB 6:30 p.m.

April 18 Mississippi State^ 8 p.m.

April 19 Mississippi State^ 6:30 p.m.

April 20 Mississippi State^ 2 p.m.

April 23 NW (La.) State 6:30 p.m.

April 24 NW (La.) State 3 p.m.

April 26 Tennessee^ 6:30 p.m.

April 27 Tennessee^ 6:30 p.m.

April 28 Tennessee^ 4 p.m.

April 29 Grambling State* 6:30 p.m.

May 3 at Kentucky^ 5:30 p.m.

May 4 at Kentucky^ 1 p.m.

May 5 at Kentucky^ noon

May 9 LSU^ 6:30 p.m.

May 10 LSU^ 6:30 p.m.

May 11 LSU^ 2 p.m.

May 16 at Texas A&M^ 6:30 p.m.

May 17 at Texas A&M^ 6:30 p.m.

May 18 at Texas A&M^ 2 p.m.

May 21-26 SEC Tournament

*at Dickey-Stephens Park, North Little Rock

^SEC game

Sports on 02/14/2019


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