Pitcher Kevin Kopps and catcher Casey Opitz have both been named team captain for the Razorbacks upcoming baseball season. The two were selected by their teammates during a recent vote.
Both are veterans on the team, but both are first time captains. Although, Opitz was certainly a leader on the team last season.
Opitz says, “Last year I took on that role just because I’m a catcher and that kind of what you need. You need that field general out there.”
But he also adds that being officially named a captain is an honor unlike any other.
“That was probably one of the biggest achievement I’ve had since I’ve been here. The accolades and stuff is cool. Going to the College World Series is cool, especially doing it twice,” says Opitz. “But having the respect of my teammates and earning that through my three years here, that was really special to me.”
Speaking of accolades, Opitz was recently named to the preseason third-team All-America selection by Baseball America. He was even awarded “best catcher arm.” Which makes sense after he threw out 22 of 46 potential base stealers last season.
Kopps, who is now in his redshirt-junior season at Arkansas, says he’s excited to be a team captain. But he’s also happy to be entering the season healthy.
The righty missed all of 2018 after having Tommy John surgery but was a key reliever for the Hogs last season. He says, “I don’t remember the last time my arm felt like this. Seems like it’s always been achy or something. But it feels normal now.”
Kopps is currently battling it out for spot in the Hogs weekend rotation. He says, when Opitz is behind home plate he doesn’t have much to worry about.
“I really rely on him to pitch call,” says Kopps. “He just does an outstanding job back there receiving. I don’t worry about anyone on base. I don’t even think twice about picking anybody off. I kind of want people to try and steal.”
As for talent on this years team, both guys spoke very highly of the 2020 Diamond Hogs.
“I would say overall this is the most talent that we’ve had,” says Kopps. “The other teams there was a Blaine (Knight), or an Isaiah (Campell). Someone like that that was exceptionally talented. But I think as a whole the most talented team.”
“Past two years we’ve been really good top to bottom,” says Opitz. “Pitching staff has been really good. But I this year is the most talent I’ve been around in terms of tools every guy has. Every guy this year has multiple tools they can use whether it’s their defense or they can swing it really well. We’ve got Casey Martin and Heston Kjerstad doing what they do. Our pitching staff is so deep. So it’s going to be a special season.”