The way new switching-hitting Razorback catcher and former Tulsa Bishop Kelly prep standout Parker Rowland (6-3, 215) sees it, Arkansas is the right place at the right time for him.

Rowland talked Thursday about his decision to head from Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton to Fayetteville, where he is scheduled to arrive on August 10.

“I am super pumped,” Rowland said. “This is going to be the biggest challenge of my career so far. When I was a kid, this is what I dreamed of – playing in the SEC and playing in (College World Series in) Omaha – and I am looking forward to it.

“I had some other schools I had been talking to, but when Arkansas reached out to me, it was kind of a no-brainer. The tradition and the culture speak for itself.”

He will be following in the footsteps of former Bishop Kelly and Arkansas standouts and current major leaguers Dallas Keuchel and Matt Reynolds.

“Obviously the culture and the winning tradition is something I was really attracted to,” Rowland said. “I am a Bishop Kelly guy so growing up I got to see Dallas Keuchel and Matt Reynolds play there and have a lot of success and both are still having good big-league careers.

“The winning tradition is huge for me personally because now I feel like I am ready to compete in the SEC. They have a need behind the plate and it just ended up being a good fit for me.”

Rowland has plans to take over for former Razorback catcher Michael Turner, the Kent State transfer who was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the ninth round earlier this week.

He will join fellow transfers Hudson Polk (Oklahoma) and Cal Kilgore (New Mexico State) as new catchers on the Arkansas roster.

“Obviously they need a guy behind the plate and I think I can do that,” Rowland said. “I bring experience back there, I have played a lot of games, I have experience at the Division I level. I think I call a good game and can get on the same page with the pitching staff really well and quickly.

“They (the pitchers) know what they are going to get out of me every day. I am going to work as hard as I can to make their job as easy as possible.”

Rowland started his college career with two years at Arkansas State before blossoming last season after a move to Eastern Oklahoma State.

He hit .408 with 12 home runs and 78 RBIs last season with 31 walks and only 31 strikeouts.also won the gold glove for Region 2 with a fielding percentage of .988 while gunning down 12 of 28 base runners.

Eastern Oklahoma State head coach Matt Parker, an Arkansas native from Searcy, loved watching the transformation.

“You look at the numbers and obviously he had a great year offensively batting in the middle of the order and switch hits,” Parker said. “…But if you ask me, I think he is really a good catch-and-throw guy.”

Rowland believes his path to Fayetteville has allowed him to develop.

“I spent my first two years at A-State and I really appreciate those guys over there for giving me my first experience in college baseball,” Rowland said. “But for me at the time I just felt that I needed to go somewhere else to just develop more, play a lot more and get some at bats and reps.

“I talked to a few junior colleges after I left A-State and Coach Parker just really stood out to me as a guy that is a winner, loves to win, competes and wants you to show up every day. It ended up being a really good fit for me.”

Getting his body right was a key component in this season’s success according to Rowland, who caught pitchers that are headed to LSU, Houston and ORU.

“So I was probably 235 pounds when I showed up at Eastern Oklahoma,” Rowland said. “For me, I want to play professional baseball and I want to play at the highest level. So I knew the biggest thing for me was just getting my body right.

“I hit the weight room really hard and I made the diet a priority for me, just watching what I put in my body, and it made huge leaps and bounds in my game, especially behind the plate, being able to move better, block better and receive better.

“I honestly think it made my swing a lot better, too. I was a little faster, a little twitchier.”

Being a switch-hitting catcher is a rarity in baseball at any level, but an idea that was suggested to Rowland by former nine-year Major League Baseball pitcher Mark Redmond, who won a World Series title with Florida in 2003.

“So when I was growing up, my coach when I was 13 was Mark Redmond, who pitched in the big leagues for about 10 years,” Rowland said. “He told me that a switch-hitting catcher is the fastest way to the big leagues. From that day forward, I started switch hitting, have been catching every day and not looked back since.”

“I think that (switch hitting) allows him to stay in the line up all the time,” Parker said. “There is really not a bad match up for him…It is really unique is an added dimension.”

Rowland was teammates this past season with Arkansas signee Isaac Webb.

Webb hit .414 this past season with six home runs, 45 RBIs and 33 stolen bases.

“You are getting an explosive athlete, one that can really run and can really swing the bat,” Rowland said of Webb. “He can also play multiple positions and is a great guy and a great teammate. I am really looking forward to playing with him some more.”

Nebraska pitcher transfer Koty Frank is another former Eastern Oklahoma State player scheduled to be on the Arkansas roster next season.

“I know him a little bit,” Rowland said. “We didn’t get the chance to play together, but I have heard a lot of really good things about him and I looking forward to getting to know him more.”