Diamond Hogs head to Oxford for big series with Rebels

Even with an earlier than usual opening for the No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks’ series with the defending national champion Ole Miss Rebels because of the Easter holiday, Dave Van Horn’s Hogs should be rested and rearing to go.

Arkansas plays the Rebels in Oxford at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and 6:30 p.m. Friday in contests that can be streamed on the ESPN/SEC +. Saturday’s 2 p.m. finale is scheduled to be televised by the SEC Network.

Why are the Hogs rested?

The threat of thunder storms canceled the Hogs’ scheduled Tuesday night game with Arkansas State. The game could have been played as it turns out, but Red Wolves likely have had a stormy trip back home to Jonesboro.

No doubt Van Horn and his staff put the extra time to good use in prepping the Hogs for their their fourth SEC series of the season.

Despite losing two of three from LSU at Baton Rouge two weeks ago, the Razorbacks are tied with the No. 1 Tigers (25-4, 6-3) in the West by virtue of winning two out of three games with Alabama last weekend at Baum-Walker Stadium.

Razorback Baseball

Opponent: at Ole Miss
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 6
Where: Swayze Field, Oxford, Miss.

Up next:

Friday — at Ole Miss 6:30 p.m. (SEC+)
Saturday — at Ole Miss 2 p.m. (SEC Network)

The Crimson Tide (22-8), Auburn (18-10), and Texas A&M (18-11) are in a three-way tie for third with 3-6 league marks followed by the Rebels (17-11) and Mississippi State (17-13) — the past two national champions — at 1-8.

Going into this weekend’s matchups, No. 3 Vanderbilt (24-5, 9-0) leads the Eastern Division with No. 6 South Carolina (27-3, 8-1), and No. 10 Kentucky (26-3, 8-1) tied for second. No. 3 Florida (25-3, 7-2) is in fourth with No. 11 Tennessee (21-8, 4-5) in fifth, Missouri (19-9, 3-6) in sixth and Georgia (16-13, 1-8) in seventh.

If you are counting, five of D1Baseball’s top six teams are SEC squads, and seven of its top 11. Winning any SEC series is something to be proud of this season, but as tight and competitive as both divisions are there is little to no time for teams to pat themselves on the back.

The SEC is of course strong in the NCAA’s Baseball Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), too. Kentucky is deemed No. 1, Arkansas No. 2, South Carolina No. 5, LSU No. 6, Vanderbilt No. 7, Florida No. 12, Alabama No. 17, Tennessee No. 18, Missouri No. 21, Auburn No. 31, Texas A&M No. 42, Mississippi State No. 46, Ole Miss No. 47, Georgia No. 52.
What all that points out is that nothing is settled in the SEC, and it likely will be a dog fight through the end of the regular season with with many ups and downs.

After this week’s matchup with Ole Miss, the Razorbacks have series with Tennessee April 14-16 at home, at Georgia April 20-22, at home with Texas A&M April 27-29, at Mississippi State May 5-7, at home against South Carolina on May 13-14, and then at Vanderbilt May 18-20.

So nothing is decided yet. If you don’t remember, Ole Miss struggled through most of the regular season last year before riding a hot streak all the way to the national title.

The best news of the week so far is that Van Horn said closer Brady Tygart might be able to return to the mound by the end of the month. When he does return, it will take him some time to get back to form, but the end of April is a great time to get a closer of his caliber back in action for the Razorbacks.

Razorback outfielder Tavian Josenberger will take the honor of being the SEC Player of the Week with him to Oxford. In four games last week, the junior from Kansas City hit .571 with eight hits, including two doubles, two home runs and six RBI.

He also went to work defensively against the Crimson Tide, robbing Alabama of a home run and keying a double play from center field last Saturday.