Press Release from Arkansas Athletics
Set to return to the field following back-to-back College World Series appearances, the Arkansas baseball program on Tuesday released its 2020 schedule, which features a 32-game home slate, including home SEC series against Alabama, Florida, Texas A&M, Auburn and Georgia. In addition, Arkansas will travel to Texas in late February to play Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor in the Minute Maid Classic at the home of the Houston Astros.
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn enters his 18th season at the helm of the baseball team and is coming off another College World Series appearance, the first in back-to-back years and 10th appearance in school history.
With its last two CWS appearances, including a finals appearance in 2018, Arkansas has elevated its program to one of its highest levels in school history. Well-known college baseball website, D1Baseball.com, recently ranked the Razorbacks’ program as the third best in the nation, 10 spots higher than its previous ranking in 2017. Van Horn, with his eight trips to the CWS in his career, has more appearances than any active coach in the nation.
Even with the departures of a number of players that were key cogs in the Razorbacks’ run to the College World Series last year, Arkansas still returns a number of veterans with experience, including two-thirds of its rotation in sophomores Connor Noland and Patrick Wicklander.
Noland and Wicklander were among the top freshmen arms in the SEC last year as the duo combined for a 4.16 ERA, nine victories, 145 strikeouts and only 51 walks. Noland was named as a Perfect Game Freshman All-American and both were named to the SEC All-Freshman team.
On the offensive side, Arkansas brings back its top hitter in Matt Goodheart, who finished with a .345 batting average over 58 games as the designated hitter and was named to the All-SEC Second Team and SEC All-Tournament Team. The Hogs also return two of the top bats in the nation in juniors Casey Martin and Heston Kjerstad, who are both projected as two of the top MLB prospects going into the 2020 season.
Over the last two years, Martin and Kjerstad have taken the conference by storm, combining for 59 home runs and each are just outside the career top-10 for home runs in Arkansas history. Kjerstad has hit .325 or higher in each of his first two seasons and matched his hit total (87) from 2018 and drove in another 51 RBIs along with 17 home runs. As for Martin, even though his average dipped slightly (.286), he still hit more home runs (15) and had more RBIs (57) than his freshman season.
2020 Schedule By The Numbers
– 16 teams with 30 or more wins in 2019 (Five with 40 or more)
– 10 NCAA Tournament teams
– 1 conference overall champions (Illinois State)
– 4 NCAA Super Regional teams (Mississippi State, Ole Miss, LSU, Auburn)
– 2 College World Series appearances (Mississippi State, Auburn)