FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. The Razorback baseball team found itself ranked No. 4 in the D1Baseball.com preseason poll Tuesday morning, its second top-five ranking of the three preseason polls that have been released so far.
Along with the D1Baseball.com poll, Arkansas is ranked No. 6 by Perfect Game and No. 3 by Collegiate Baseball, its highest preseason ranking since 2013.
Coming off a 19-game turnaround in 2017 and its 14th NCAA Regional berth in the last 15 years, Arkansas returns with a highly touted team that includes six of its top eight hitters and a bevy of pitchers from a year ago. Arkansas 45 wins last year were its most since 2012 and ninth 40-win season under Dave Van Horn.
To cap Arkansas year, Baum Stadium hosted an NCAA Regional for the sixth time in school history and a total of 67,704 fans were in attendance, making the Fayetteville Regional, the highest attended regional in the country. For the season, Arkansas finished third in the nation in average attendance (8,269) and second in overall attendance (289,421), its 13th-straight season in the top five.
Eight teams ranked in D1Baseball.coms preseason poll will face off against the Razorbacks this year, four of those matchups coming inside Baum Stadium: No. 21 Texas (March 13-14), No. 8 Kentucky (March 16-18), No. 3 Texas Tech (April 24-25), No. 10 Texas A&M (May 11-13).
One year after leading the conference with 83 home runs and touting the third-best team batting average (.286), Arkansas brings back the core of its lineup, including freshman All-American Dominic Fletcher and All-SEC players Grant Koch and Jax Biggers.
Biggers led the team with a .338 average, the best batting average by a Razorback shortstop since Scott Hode in 2005, while Koch led all SEC catchers with 13 home runs coupled with 42 RBIs.
Fletcher was, arguably, the best freshman hitter in the SEC last year with a .291 average, 12 home runs, and 37 RBIs. His 12 long balls was just one off from tying the Arkansas freshman record set by Zack Cox back in 2009, but were the most among all freshman in the SEC.
On the mound, Arkansas returns the heart of its pitching staff in preseason All-American Blaine Knight along with redshirt sophomore Isaiah Campbell, junior Kacey Murphy, and junior Jake Reindl. Entering his second year as the Arkansas pitching coach, Wes Johnson hopes to continue seeing the pitching success the Razorbacks had last year, which combined for a 3.61 team ERA and a school-record 619 strikeouts.
Arkansas is scheduled to open the 2018 season against Bucknell on Friday, Feb. 16 with first pitch at 3 p.m. at Baum Stadium. Tickets are now on sale through the Razorback Ticket Office.
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