A bit later Ft. Worth, Texas was off the board. In the Johnny Walker Lounge at Baum Stadium waiting media seem to agree that Hattiesburg, Mississippi was the choice. But it wasn't. In fact the Hogs reward for winning five of its last six regular season SEC games and going 3-2 in the conference tournament turned out to be a thousand mile trip to Charlottesville, Virginia to face a Liberty University team playing an hour away from its campus by automobile. Virginia, the host team, was considered to be in the running for the top national seed before the ACC Tournament.
If Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn was upset, he didn't show it.
"I'm a little surprised but whose to say?" Van Horn told reporters. "I saw where Long Beach is going all the way to Gainesville (Florida) so you never know."
Van Horn might have been one of the few people connected to Arkansas who knew much about Liberty's baseball team.
"Coach (Jim) Toman was the longtime assistant for Ray Tanner at South Carolina," Van Horn noted. "A very good coach. Followed them throughout the season just checking scores and just noticed they were winning a lot of ball games."
Van Horn's players seemed to be unconcerned by the prospect of going up against a well coached local underdog only to get the former number one team in the country if they advance a winner from Friday's opening game.
"The draw that we got, there's going to be some tough teams in this regional," junior second baseman Brian Anderson admitted, "but I think overall we're confident. We've shown an ability to come from behind. We've got some momentum going."
Two key starters remain questionable for Arkansas.
Van Horn revealed that senior catcher Jake Wise suffered a hairline fracture in his throwing hand in game three of the Missouri series. Wise has been sidelined since with true freshman Alex Gosser stepping to produce surprising results.
"He caught bullpens for me most of the season," sophomore right-hander Trey Killian said of Gosser. "I always knew he could catch back there. It was just a matter of him getting in an actual game and adjusting to the pressure."
"He's actually put some good swings on the baseball," Killian continued. "He hasn't had many at bats this year so if anything's surprising it's that."
Van Horn also shed some light on a persistant rumor that junior lefty Jalen Beeks, the Hogs' Saturday starter for most of the season, was done for the year. Beeks' last appearance was on May 3rd. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings and gave up six runs against Ole Miss. Van Horn announced the next week that Beeks was going on the shelf for a while to rest a sore elbow.
"He (Beeks) hasn't been on a mound but he's been playing catch full speed," Van Horn explained. "We see how he feels the next day and then we do it all over again. He's doing okay. It's still not one hundred percent yet but he's getting there."
Following eight games in ten days on the road Van Horn gave his players Sunday and Monday off. He said the team will practice Tuesday at noon and will leave for Charlottesville the following day.