College Baseball Teams Adapt To Frigid Weather

Chris Murray Bio
It’s an all too common story, but once again winter weather has interfered with early season college baseball. In Arkansas, games have been moved up and opponents added last minute as ice and snow hit the state this week.

For years, the debate has raged concerning the start of the college baseball season. Teams in the northeast and midwest would benefit from a later start, and not just by avoiding winter weather. Those teams would also stand to save money, as now they are forced to travel south or west in February to play games.

It’s no accident that the top teams in the country are, almost without exception, from the South and far west. Don’t look for that to change any time soon, and not only due to the fact that baseball is not a revenue producer.

The Razorbacks had games scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday against New Orleans. The prescient minds in the athletic department saw the impending freeze and set a Tuesday doubleheader.

In frigid conditions, the Razorbacks swept Tuesday’s doubleheader against an overmatched New Orleans team. Razorback hurlers hung up 18 goose eggs as the Hogs rolled to 14-0 and 3-0 wins.

Central Arkansas got an addition to its schedule for the weekend. The Bears were already set to play Jackson State three times, but a Saturday game with Kansas has now been added. The Jayhawks had a weekend series with Northwestern wiped out due to the wintry mix that hit the Midwest.

UCA, which fell 10-2 on Wednesday against highly ranked Vanderbilt in Nashville, will get another chance to see how it measures up with a team from a major conference. The Bears will play single games against Jackson State today and Sunday, and will play twice Saturday – against Kansas at 1 p.m. and Jackson State at 5. The Bears are 3-1 including a sweep of Murray State last weekend. Bear Stadium, which was opened in 2009 and was a major upgrade to UCA’s facilities, is a great place to watch a game.

Arkansas hosts Evansville for a weekend series starting today. That will wrap up the Hogs’ season-opening eight-game homestand, as Arkansas heads to the Coca-Cola Classic starting Thursday in Surprise, Ariz.

Ryne Stanek and Barrett Astin are slated to start the first two games this weekend, while Trey Killian, the heralded freshman out of Mountain Home, will start on Sunday. Killian fired three hitless innings of relief in his debut last week. Evansville lost two out of three games last weekend in Little Rock against UALR.

Following the surprising loss to Western Illinois, the Hogs will naturally be looking for the sweep to complete the homestand at 7-1. After being the near-consensus preseason no. 1, Arkansas fell in a couple of major polls, which is not uncommon due to the nature of college baseball.

Arkansas’ bats came to life on Tuesday. Willie Schwanke (great baseball name) and Tyler Spoon each hit their first homers as Razorbacks. Spoon, a redshirt freshman outfielder from Van Buren, where he was a multi-sport standout, has settled into the middle of the lineup, hitting 8-for-18 in five games. Spoon’s production has helped ease the sting of being without Dominic Ficociello, who will sit again this weekend with his oblique injury.

Arkansas State is off to a 4-0 start following a 3-2 win Tuesday over Memphis. That followed a three-game sweep of Bradley last weekend in Jonesboro, in which the Red Wolves outscored the Braves 32-8. Kaleb Brown is ASU’s top hitter through four games, batting 7-for-12. ASU hosts Western Illinois for a three-game set starting with a doubleheader Saturday. Considering Western Illinois knocked off Arkansas on Sunday, surely there won’t be any folks in Jonesboro comparing scores this weekend.

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