1. Oklahoma State has had a good year, unfortunately that means some of us have ignored the outside world and what's going on. Can you give us a short summary with record, top three players and accomplishments?
This season was a bit of a wild one. Arkansas started off the season a mess. The pitching was horrendous and the offense wasn't much better and it led to an 8-9 start, I believe. But when April rolled around, Van Horn turned this team around. He and pitching coach Dave Jorn figured out the arms they can trust while also fitting a balanced lineup around Benintendi. The Razorbacks went 8-0-1 in their last nine SEC series and battled their way back into the postseason for the 14th consecutive season.
Benintendi - SEC POY and Baseball America NPOY - is obviously Arkansas' No. 1 guy. It's nothing for him to tally a two-hit game and swipe a couple of bases. Freshman pitcher Keaton McKinney is another huge reason for the Arkansas turnaround. He was named to the All-SEC Freshman team and was a stud for Arkansas and a guy DVH really relied on to give quality innings.
Finally, outfielder Tyler Spoon and third baseman Bobby Wernes are Arkansas' other guys. Wernes is a vacuum at third - hopefully we'll see some of his gems this weekend. Spoon is second on the team in average and RBI, and has a cannon in rightfield. He's done well hitting behind Benintendi in the four-hole.
2. What should OSU fans expect from Arkansas if the two shall meet?
It's interesting because if you look at Arkansas' numbers, no one other than Benintendi scares you offensively, but with a lineup so balanced, a number of guys could come through big. Michael Bernal hit well in the league tournament and had a walk-off hit, Wernes hit a huge go-ahead HR in the ninth to beat Florida and of course Spoon is capable. Look for a balanced lineup that likes to grind out at-bats.
Pitching is kind of a question this weekend because McKinney is battling a hip issue, and he's been Arkansas' best starter for a while. Zach Jackson has been big for the Hogs out of the bullpen. He's got an explosive fastball and good off-speed stuff.
3. Tell us about Benintendi. The man's a baseball playing machine. We want to know what you know about him.
He's really been fun to watch this season. Crazy thing is, he hit just one home run as a freshman, then led the nation in that category this season. He says he's added 15-20 pounds since his freshman year - still stands at 5-11, 185 - and swears he isn't a home run hitter, which I believe. He's just dang good at getting the barrel of the bat to the ball. I think his confidence has spilled over to the rest of the Arkansas lineup, as well.
4. As you asked, we want to know what the teams weaknesses are?
Every now and then Arkansas is susceptible to reverting back to its early season ways. Pitchers have a tendency to issue walk after walk and give away easy runs. The defense, as we saw last week vs. LSU, can get sloppy, too, but it wasn't much of an issue before that game.
5. What's the pitching lineup/bullpen depth? Who is the scariest for opposing teams and who is the scariest for Razorback fans?
The pitching depth isn't that great, which is something DVH has talked about since the league tournament. He needs his pitchers to be sharp and not fool around and really overwork themselves. The depth of the staff is the one thing that could really slow up this team if you ask me.
6. The obvious "what do you think," question. So, what happens? Bonus: does Missouri state win, allowing the winner of the stillwater regional to host a super?
I think OSU makes it out of the regional. Arkansas' pitching depth, like I said, is a big question mark for me. But I think Missouri State also takes its regional and the Cowboys get to host a Super. Oregon, from the little I know about their program, can be stingy. But I see OSU hosting again next weekend.