Arkansas' Van Horn hopes to deliver on rankings
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Dave Van Horn isn't about to complain about Arkansas being ranked No. 1 in several preseason college baseball polls.
That said, the Razorbacks coach isn't putting all that much stock in the early ranking, either — preferring to "hang around the top 10 all year" in advance of postseason play.
Arkansas, fresh off its third College World Series appearance in Van Horn's 10 seasons as coach, opened practice Friday in advance of its season opener against Western Illinois on Feb. 15. The Razorbacks did so as the top-ranked team in a pair of preseason polls.
They are No. 3 in the Baseball America poll, and each of the high rankings show Van Horn a level of respect for a program that was one win away last season from playing for the national championship against eventual champion Arizona.
"It's exciting for our whole team and our program," Van Horn said. "It's an honor ... I feel like nationally the program is highly respected now."
Arkansas was 46-22 last season, doing so behind one of the top pitching staffs in the country. The Razorbacks compiled a team ERA of 2.83, the second best in school history and lowest since 1976, and they won the Houston Regional and Baylor Super Regional to reach the College World Series.
Much of that staff returns this season for Arkansas, including junior right-hander Ryan Stanek, who was 8-4 with a 2.82 ERA in 17 starts for the Razorbacks last season.
While Stanek is expected to anchor the rotation, Van Horn once again expects to field plenty of pitching depth. He plans to begin the season with four quality starters, including returners Barrett Astin (1.99 ERA in 58 2/3 innings) and Randall Fant (3.27 ERA in 52 1/3 innings).
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