Arkansas fresh off two wins on Tuesday is looking at possibly having to double up on some games this weekend.
Jake Wise is expected to carry most of the load at catcher this season.
Due the snow and expected ice in Fayetteville Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said as of noon on Wednesday the three games against Evansville at Baum Stadium will be played as scheduled. However, he did say that could change based upon how badly this area gets hit with the winter storm.
“We will obviously make a decision tomorrow,” Van Horn said. “Just how this weather goes. We could play two Saturday or two on Sunday. Sunday is obviously the better day so far from what they are saying. We have field covered with the tarp.”
Arkansas is slated to host Evansville at 3:05 on Friday and then again at 1:05 on Saturday and Sunday. Regardless of how the games end up being played, Van Horn will stick with his scheduled rotation.
“We will have (Ryne) Stanek in game one whenever that is,” Van Horn said. “We feel like we're throwing (Barrett) Astin in game two. That's the plan right now go ahead and give him another start. We will go with (Trey) Killian in game three. We will put (Trent) Daniel back in the bullpen.”
Arkansas entered the season ranked No. 1, but did drop this past Sunday's game to Western Illinois. Van Horn talks about how he feels the 4-1 Razorbacks have played.
“I feel offensively we have done a good job putting the bat on the ball,” Van Horn said. “I think yesterday we only struck out three times, but the pitching was just okay. We realize that, but offensively I feel they were swinging the bat pretty good this early. I think we're going to get a lot better. Obviously, we need to because the (opponent's) pitching will get better.
“We have fielded the ball pretty good for the most part. The pitching is what I thought it would be.....pretty good. I think guys have got to get better. Stanek has got to be better this week. Last week, the velocity was good. His stuff was good, but his command was not good. You pitch on Friday night in the SEC you better have good command.”
The Razorbacks did rebound from the 7-5 loss to Western Illinois to beat New Orleans 14-0 and 3-0 on Tuesday.
The snow covered the field at Baum Stadium on Wednesday morning.
“I was disappointed in the loss,” Van Horn said. “But, the way we bounced back after a loss and the intensity we played with maybe it was a good thing.”
One area that Van Horn admitted he has some concerns about is the backup catcher behind Jake Wise. Jean Ramirez played 3 ½ innings on Sunday and had a critical passed ball, throwing error and hit into a 6-4-3 double play in his only at bat. Van Horn is having to get by without highly-touted freshman Blake Baxendale, who is out for the season following Tommy John Surgery.
“Catching is always a concern,” Van Horn said. “You always have a front-line guy. It just seems at this level catching is hard to get. They get snatched up pretty good. I was disappointed for the way it went for [Ramirez] in that game.
“We actually had a little talk yesterday. I thought he caught the ball good for a couple of innings yesterday. It is a concern because when Baxendale got hurt that might have taken out our No. 2 guy. At least we would have had a battle for the No. 2 spot.”
Van Horn also said he felt like part of Ramirez's problem might have been first-game jitters.
“I think so,” Van Horn said. “The first time we caught him for a couple of innings you didn't even notice him and you don't want to notice the catcher. Then, he got a start. Big crowd, parents in the stands and I could go on and on. It didn't go well.”
Van Horn said he isn't sure Ramirez will get another start maybe choosing instead to go with Wise each game at least to start.
“We're trying to get Wise to the point that he can catch all the time,” Van Horn said. “There's guys in Division I baseball that are catching 50 out of 56 games. I remember a few years ago the Cal catcher caught every game the year before and they asked if they could catch him every game the next year.
Jean Ramirez is working hard to get back on the field at catcher for the Razorbacks.
“Who knows? We'll see how it goes. I told [Ramirez] he's going to have to go earn it. We'll get him in there, we've got to play him. We will play him some anyway to give Jake a little bit of a break, but as far as starting I don't know. If Jake is ready to roll we're going to catch him.”
As far as this weekend's opponent, Van Horn said they played very well against UALR in a recent series. He likes Evanville's pitching staff.
“They were all one-run games,” Van Horn said. “The pitching for Evansville was very good. Their starter on Friday is a lefty. He went five innings, six innings and only gave up one run. They won 2-1, they scored two in the first so UALR pitched pretty well as well.
“I know they have their entire pitching staff other than maybe one or two. They have 23-24 players returning off last year's team. They feel like they're going to be really good. They've got good pitching and they've got an older team. Last year, they led the country in team-fielding percentage. They're good. They will probably be the best team we have played so far, that's what I'm expecting.”
True freshman Colin Poche pitched the opener last night and didn't allow any runs and only one hit against New Orleans. Van Horn said Poche's performance wasn't a surprise.
“Not really, he's kind of a calm kid when he's on the mound,” Van Horn said. “He had a lot of success in high school. He pitched his team all the way to late in the playoffs. He was a pretty good draft choice and decided he wanted to go to school. He's a very good student. His mound presence has been pretty good.”
Poche was asked if he was nervous before taking the mound on Tuesday afternoon.
“Just a little,” Poche said. “Once I got on the mound, threw that first strike, then kind of realized it's back to baseball. It's the same game you've been playing your whole life. There's just more people around there.”
Poche is hoping for a chance to have an impact this season after turning down good money from Professional Baseball to come to Arkansas.
“It shows us that not only are we looking for the future to play, but we're looking to make an impact right now and help this team get back to where it was last year and even farther,” Poche said.