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 a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year three times.
Razorbacks baseball report:
Freshman Wallace impresses Van Horn
Arkansas infielder Cayden Wallace throws to the plate Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, during practice at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Freshman Cayden Wallace batted .412 (7 for 17) in six games in the University of Arkansas’ intrasquad World Series that wrapped up fall baseball practice.
Wallace, who is from Greenbrier, hit two home runs and drove in six runs.
“Cayden Wallace is obviously a very talented right-handed hitter,” Razorbacks Coach Dave Van Horn said Wednesday on a Zoom call with the media. “He runs well. He’s got a tremendous arm.”
Wallace played right field in the World Series, but Van Horn said he also played first and third base in practice.
“He’s going to work at all three of those positions from now until we open up [the 2021 season], and probably throughout his freshman year,” Van Horn said. “We’re going to find a way to get him in the lineup.
“He’s very mature, very strong, very serious. I wish all freshmen had the same approach.”
Connor Noland, a sophomore right-hander who was in the SEC starting rotation in 2019 and was slated to be there again last spring before the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the season being canceled in mid-March, struggled in two starts in the Razorbacks’ intrasquad World Series.
Noland pitched a combined 5 innings and allowed 14 hits and 9 earned runs.
“Yeah, we’re concerned about it,” Coach Dave Van Horn said. “Our hitters have seen him a lot.
“Velocity was down a little bit. Breaking ball, some good, some not so good. They took advantage of everything his last outing.”
Noland went 22/3 innings in his second start and allowed 7 hits and 5 earned runs on 38 pitches.
“He gave up a lot of hits in a couple innings, and that was that,” Van Horn said. “He knows what he needs to work on, and we know where we need to get him.
“There’s a lot of competition here to get on the mound. We feel good about our pitching.”
Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said he’ll be on a call today with other SEC coaches and officials from the conference office to discuss scheduling for the 2021 season.
Normally schedules would be set by now, but the coronavirus pandemic has changed that.
“We’re trying to figure this out,” Van Horn said. “But I think the bottom line is we want to play a full schedule. We want to probably control our schedule a little bit.
“If we knew that we were going to play and people weren’t going to cancel games or were going to be able to afford to test their student-athletes before they came to our campus, I feel like we’d play the schedule that we already have in place.
“But if we don’t feel confident with that, I think you might see where we’re playing more conference games where we can control what’s up.”
Van Horn said previously it’s possible SEC teams might play four-game conference series rather than three-game series.
Don’t be surprised if Jaxon Wiggins, a freshman right-hander from Roland, Okla., breaks into the Razorbacks’ weekend rotation.
“Wiggins, he’s just blessed with a lot of baseball talent,” Coach Dave Van Horn said. “He’s got a big, physical body. Incredible arm. And he doesn’t get all uptight about things.
“I told Jaxon I feel like if he stays healthy and he wants it, he’ll be as good as he wants to be. He could be special. We’ll see how that works out. Just a really good young pitcher that, if he wants to get after it right now and really focus in on being a conference type starter, he can do it. He’s still a freshman and has some good days and bad days. But talent-wise, it’s in there.”
Surgery for Griffin
Freshman left-hander Nick Griffin from Monticello underwent Tommy John surgery on his elbow a week ago.
“When Nick got here in the summer, he came a couple weeks early, playing catch, doing things, his arm wasn’t feeling great,” Coach Dave Van Horn said. “He got on the mound and tried to throw a bullpen. I’m thinking back a couple months ago now. Didn’t feel right.
“He never threw a pitch for us this fall. We shut him down right there, had him evaluated. Didn’t get a great evaluation back. We tried to rehab, do some things, which never works, to be honest with you.”
The decision was made for Griffin to have surgery.
“Now is better than later,” Van Horn said.
Van Horn said he was expecting Griffin to be one of the team’s better left-handed pitchers.
“A young guy we could put out there and could work his way into the rotation, whether it be middle of the week or on the weekend,” Van Horn said. “At a minimum, maybe some middle reliever, closer type [innings] as a freshman.
“Obviously, that’s not going to happen now. Now our goal is to get him back as quick as possible, but at the same time, get him to a level where he can contribute a lot.
“Next year at this time, he’ll be a year out. About the time the season starts, he should be just about 100%.”
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