Sew it up: Arkansas baseball is back where it belongs ahead of SEC Tourney
With your bacon, have some Hogs for Breakfast. It’s SEC Country’s weekday column and roundup on all things Arkansas. Opinion, numbers, inane babble and more! And now with ironic exclamation points. There is no place like it on the Web.
Somethings things just feel right, don’t they?
Last year was an anomaly with the Arkansas baseball team. Not just askew. Things didn’t go “sideways.” The Diamond Hogs season went flat-out backward. It would be easy to call 2016 a wasted year, the Razorbacks having finished in last place in the SEC and all.
But to call it wasted is to ignore what it meant. Because without having gone through what they did in 2016, the Razorbacks wouldn’t be where they are now in 2017. And where they are now with a first-round bye ahead of the SEC Baseball Tournament this week.
The last time Arkansas finished this high — top 4 in the SEC — was back in 2013 when it finished third. Those Razorbacks went all the way to conference semifinals, falling to LSU, which won the SEC title that year. That Arkansas team also finished 18-11 in conference play during the regular season. That Arkansas team, too, however, had to travel for its NCAA Tournament Regional.
So, in theory, the 2017 Diamond Hogs could suffer the same fate. Just don’t bet on it.
Arkansas does have to head to Hoover, Ala., this week for the SEC Tournament first, but the Razorbacks should be staring right in the face of hosting duties. Coach Dave Van Horn’s bunch plays Wednesday, late night, against the winner of No. 12 seed Georgia and No. 5 seed Mississippi State. The official game time is to be determined, but it will be the final game of Day 2 in Hoover. One win should be all that’s required for the Razorbacks to sew up another series of games at Baum Stadium the first weekend of June.
The Diamond Hogs deserve this fate. Everything they dealt with in 2016 led them to this point. Pitching injuries, bad beats, the looming retirement of Dave Jorn — nothing that came after the early season trip to Texas felt right. And while you hate to say they had to suffer through it to learn from it (such phrases aren’t really true), this season would not be as sweet for those who were part of things last year without the heartbreak.
Mission isn’t yet accomplished, though. Arkansas can’t head to Alabama this week and simply punt, then hope for the best. The team could still have to travel for a regional. Plus, if they play well enough and — now this would be a long shot, but — the Razorbacks could be a national seed, setting themselves up to host even a Super Regional.
That’s getting ahead of things, though. Sunday was a day for celebration for the Arkansas baseball team. After a one-year absence, this is where they belong.
Frank Ragnow’s World
Arkansas center Frank Ragnow lost his father during football season last season for Arkansas. He never missed a game, but the entire rest of the season, Ragnow simply wanted to go home.
No one blames him. But he couldn’t go, either. Well, technically, Ragnow could have left the team, the school, any time he wanted. His father wouldn’t have liked it, though. So, Frank stuck it out, traveling home for the funeral and heading right back to Fayetteville.
Ragnow didn’t talk much about his father’s death during the rest of the season. As time has passed, though, he has begun to open up about it. Little by little.
Our Jason Kersey visited the Ragnow family this spring to take a look at how the family, Frank and all, are adjusting to their still-new life. It’s a touching portrait of humanity I could not recommend more.
The Arkansas softball team saw its season come to a close Saturday night. The Razorbacks lost to top-seeded Oklahoma in the Norman Regional, 5-3.
Coach Courtney Deifel’s team finished the season 31-24, just the seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. This after the previous two Arkansas teams won just one SEC game. It was a dramatic turnaround.
It could hold up, too. The team is expected to return seven of its top nine hitters and staff ace, pitcher Autumn Storms, is likely to come back as well.
“I can’t say enough how proud I am of this team and not only what they did for this program, but what they’ve done for the staff and for each other,” Deifel said. “It’s a very special group and I love this team. It’s one of those years where you want to play as long as you can because it’s just that special.”
- Natural State preps star Gerry Bohanon, a 4-star quarterback from Earle, released his top 6 schools over the weekend. Arkansas was on it. Coach Bret Bielema began recruiting Bohanon late, but has said he is interested in getting another quarterback as part of the 2018 class (Greenwood quarterback Connor Noland is already signed.).
- So, uh, Arkansas track appears to be getting the best high school runner in the state of Utah’s history. Hunter Woodhall broke a pair of records at the state championships this weekend. And they’re rather impressive. Woodhall signed with the Razorbacks over the weekend.
— Ryan Comer (@RyanComerSe) May 20, 2017
I can't believe it.
— Ryan Comer (@RyanComerSe) May 20, 2017
Yee-Haw! Today in Arkansas
You ever read that book “Misery?” by Stephen King? Or seen the movie? This sounds a little like that.
A 92-year-old woman in the care of another was found dead late last week with bite marks all over her body. Her son had gone to check on her at her home and discovered the mother and her caretaker “on the floor in a pool of blood.”
If that isn’t creepy enough, check out this line from the affidavit by Cherokee Village Police Chief Ricky Crook.
“The victim appeared to have part of her chin bitten off.”
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has more details — if you want to read them.
Skip Breakfast? C’mon. It’s too important. Catch up with previous versions here.