CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — All that stands between Arkansas and the College World Series is one victory over a team from North Carolina.
The Razorbacks lost a pair of one-run games to North Carolina State at Baum-Walker Stadium last June following a 21-2 win over the Wolfpack in the first game of the super regional. It was a series loss that eliminated the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed.
Following a 4-1 victory over North Carolina in the first game of the NCAA Chapel Hill Super Regional on Saturday, members of Arkansas’ team said they are hopeful their experience last season will pay off this time around.
“Human nature, you’re going to think about it a little bit,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said when asked about last year’s ending, “but, really, your thought process should be you learn from it.”
Seven of the 12 Razorbacks who played Saturday were on last year's team. Several other members of the 2021 team are on the trip to Chapel Hill.
Second baseman Robert Moore alluded to the experience a week ago after the Razorbacks moved to within one victory of clinching a regional championship at Oklahoma State.
"Last year everyone had their bags packed to go to Omaha and in 48 hours we’re done," Moore said.
Within minutes of Saturday’s game ending, Arkansas starting pitcher Connor Noland said the team had already turned its attention toward winning Sunday’s game that begins at noon Central.
“Today doesn’t really matter anymore,” Noland said in an interview with ESPN. “You move on to tomorrow and have that mindset that you come out and win it tomorrow.”
Arkansas is looking to earn its 11th trip to the College World Series and seventh in Van Horn’s 20 seasons as head coach.
Van Horn also twice led Nebraska to the College World Series. He is the active leader with eight College World Series appearances as a coach.
“We got beat by a really good team, a hot team,” Van Horn said of losing to North Carolina State 6-5 and 3-2 in last year’s super regional. “That’s the way it goes.”
Arkansas had to go on the road for last week’s Stillwater (Okla.) Regional after the Razorbacks went a combined 4-8 in games before the NCAA Tournament.
“I’ve been saying it, we feel great about still being able to play [considering] the way we were playing about three weeks ago,” Van Horn said. “We feel great that we’re still standing.”