FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Pitching coach Dave Jorn wasn't sure what to expect from Arkansas' staff following an offseason of heavy losses to the Major League Baseball draft.
The overhauled rotation has proven more than capable of following in the footsteps of the top pitching staff in school history.
When the second-seeded Razorbacks (38-23) open the Charlottesville Regional on Friday against Liberty, they'll do so with a team ERA of 2.63. The pitching hasn't been as good as last season, when Arkansas led college baseball with a team ERA of 1.89, but it's been the backbone of a program that earned its 13th straight NCAA tournament berth.
Led by starters Trey Killian, Chris Oliver and Jalen Beeks, the staff quickly adapted to their new roles.
"I knew we had some kids that were competitive and some hard workers that had some talent," Jorn said. "They just needed some innings to try to figure out whether or not they were going to be good enough to be able to compete."
The Razorbacks have shown their worth time and again this season, excelling in the Southeastern Conference despite the loss of starters Ryne Stanek, Barrett Astin and Randall Fant. They were just three of 11 Arkansas players drafted.
Killian, Oliver and Beeks entered this season with a combined seven starts at Arkansas. Despite that lack of experience, the three have combined for 40 starts and a 2.25 ERA this season for the Razorbacks — who rank 15th overall nationally in staff ERA.
"With the draft last year, it didn't look too hot," Oliver said. "But the young guys came in, they stepped up ... I think that all goes back to coach Jorn and his philosophy and mentality with us."