A couple of familiar faces are helping out too. Arkansas junior right-handed pitcher Trey Killian has made the final cut for the team and Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress, a former assistant coach under Van Horn, is the pitching coach for Team USA this summer.
"I already have a good relationship with Trey," Van Horn stressed. "He's been such a leader and a warrior for our own team on the weekends. Here I'm keeping my eye on him a little bit and it's so far so good."
"It's been a great experience to be around all this talent," Killian said with a smile. "It's a very humbling experience, is what I tell everybody. You don't realize how good these guys are until you actually get out here on the field and put a whole team together."
For Van Horn and Childress it's been like going back to that time when they were working together instead of trying to beat each other as head coaches. "I was honored to start my career and worked 14 years with him," Childress recalled. "Then both of us go our different directions but our families still remain close. To have this experience this summer to coach with him is something special."
"You've got 12 quality pitchers that want to pitch," Van Horn said of the job Childress is doing. "That takes a lot of pressure off me just knowing that he can handle that. I realize what a good friend he is and he hasn't changed a bit, honestly."
Van Horn admits that, so far, the toughest part of his job has been the roster cut he had to make from 33 to 24 players, explaining, "We had a long day. We lost a game and we were back at the hotel from 11 p.m. to like two in the morning. Some kids were upset. Some understood. But it's just part of it."
Since making the cut Killian has thrown just one inning, using nine pitches to record three outs without giving up a hit.
"He's a winner," Childress acknowledged. "He got after us twice earlier in the year both in Fayetteville and in the conference tournament. I'm sure glad I'm wearing the same uniform as him this summer."
Team USA is about to hit the road big time with a trip to the Netherlands, back home and then on to Cuba.
"The experience for these guys, it'll be something they'll never forget," Van Horn predicted. "Myself as a coach, I'll be the same way."
"Going to Cuba is a once in a lifetime experience 'cause you can't just go into Cuba for the heck of it," Killian added. "So to be able to go down there for a friendly (game that doesn't count against the team's record) is going to be awesome."
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