When Arkansas sophomore Connor Noland was contemplating focusing on one collegiate sport, his dad gave him a piece of advice- Sometimes the sport chooses you, you don’t choose the sport.
Noland says it was that advice that helped him confidently decide to focus solely on baseball. That focus has amped up his game heading into the 20-20 season.
“I’m not going to leave anything out there. I’m not going to leave anything in here. I’m going to leave it all out on the field and bring it everyday,” says Noland.
The right-handed pitcher from Greenwood, Ar, has spent the off-season preparing for Friday’s first start.
“I’m feeling really good. Obviously I put on a lot of weight, and spent a lot of time with Blaine and he’s gotten me in a good spot physically,” adds Noland.
His body transformation is obvious, and one he says he hopes translates on the mound. Mechanically, the focus is becoming a more well rounded pitcher.
“I’ve just been working a lot in the bullpen. You work on your stuff. Velocity is a big thing for me, So gaining velocity and getting stronger in the weight room, all those things went into it, and then working on a change up. That was my big goal this off season.”
On Friday, Noland steps onto a mound previously occupied by two guys who went 26-1 over the past two seasons. Is he ready to step into the shoes of Isaiah Campbell and Blaine Knight?
“Obviously those two guys dominated while they were here. You know, that is definitely something you have to step into those shoes and fill them up. Anyone who pitches on Friday is going to step up, and you have the stigma of the University of Arkansas baseball, and you have a lot to fill there,” says Noland.
Arkansas starts their season on Friday against Eastern Illinois at Baum-Walker Stadium.