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Arkansas baseball: Hogs receive every No. 1 vote in most recent poll | Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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Arkansas baseball: Hogs receive every No. 1 vote in most recent poll | Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


FAYETTEVILLE — Being the nation’s No. 1-ranked baseball team for the first time in three seasons didn’t go to the Arkansas Razorbacks’ heads.

The Razorbacks were focused and did not overlook Missouri in sweeping a three-game series against the Tigers to open SEC play last weekend at Baum-Walker Stadium.

Dave Van Horn, in his 22nd season as the University of Arkansas coach, downplayed the No. 1 ranking.

The Razorbacks (17-2, 3-0 SEC) were ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll — recognized as the poll of record by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette — on Monday for the second consecutive week.

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Last week Arkansas was voted No. 1 in the coaches’ poll for the first time since the end of the 2021 regular season, though the Razorbacks have been ranked in the poll for 98 consecutive weeks going back to 2017.

Van Horn was asked Sunday after Arkansas’ 9-1 victory over Missouri about how his team handled the No. 1 ranking. Some of the Razorbacks were in the back of the room waiting to talk with media members after their coach was finished.

“We’re No. 1?” Van Horn said, addressing his players as well as the media. “I haven’t talked to the team one time, have I?

“We haven’t talked about it. We don’t talk about it. We just play.

“I guess to answer your question, we won all three games, so it went good. I guess it’s an honor for somebody to rank you No. 1 because they think you’re that good.

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“But somebody’s got to be there right now.”

The Razorbacks outscored the Tigers by a combined 23-1 score, including 8-0 on Friday night and 6-0 on Saturday.

Missouri (9-11, 0-3) was picked by conference coaches to finish last in the SEC East and Arkansas was picked to win the overall and West titles. But voters in the coaches’ national poll were impressed enough by the Razorbacks’ sweep that they were unanimously the No. 1 pick.

Arkansas received all 31 of the coaches’ votes in Monday’s poll after getting 18 votes the previous week when they moved from No. 3 to No. 1 ahead of previously top-ranked Wake Forest and LSU.

The Razorbacks also are ranked No. 1 this week by D1Baseball, Baseball America, Perfect Game and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

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“I don’t think the rankings really matter, because at the end of the day, you’ve got to play the games,” said Razorbacks junior catcher Hudson White, a transfer from Texas Tech. “I think we have 40-something games left. So being ranked No. 1 doesn’t really mean anything. We just want to win ball games.”

Arkansas junior left-hander Mason Molina, also a transfer from Texas Tech, had 10 strikeouts and didn’t allow a run in 5 1/3 innings against Missouri on Sunday.

“I think the best way to put it is, play like you’re unranked,” Molina said. “It doesn’t matter where you are, where they put you.

“I think if you can play with that chip on your shoulder no matter where they put you, it’s going to be hard to beat us.”

Wehiwa Aloy, a sophomore shortstop who transferred to Arkansas from Sacramento State, drove in three runs on Sunday with a two-RBI single and sacrifice-fly.

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“It feels the same as being unranked,” Aloy said of playing for the No. 1 team. “We don’t really pay attention to that.

“We just go out and play. Competing, having each other’s back on the field.”

Missouri batted .096 (8 of 83) and scored its only run of the series on a home run by Thomas Curry in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game against freshman reliever Colin Fisher.

Arkansas pitchers held the Tigers to 8 hits and 10 walks and had 38 strikeouts.

“They’re still a good team, they still fought,” Molina said. “They had good at-bats. They’re all good players. They’re in the SEC for a reason.

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“But I think we just kept the foot on the gas and did the best we could. They got a swing off Fisher, but other than that, I think the guys did a great job this weekend.

“Really trying to stack innings and pitches on top of each other in at-bats. We’re quick with the hitters. I think we did a pretty good job of getting after it and continuing to fight the whole weekend.”

The Razorbacks didn’t commit an error during the Missouri series. They batted .247 (23 of 93), but hit 8 home runs, 3 doubles and 1 triple.

“I think they did what they were supposed to do,” Missouri Coach Kerrick Jackson said. “I don’t think they did anything exceptional.

“I think they played the game the way it was supposed to be played. Pitchers competed and they played good defense and they had quality at-bats.

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“If we would have played clean baseball — if we’d have had quality at-bats, if we’d have thrown strikes consistently, if we’d have played good defense — I don’t think the result is the same.

“That doesn’t mean we would have necessarily won, but I don’t think the result is what it was on the scoreboard.”

The Razorbacks have 14 errors on the season, but none in the last five games. They lead the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 4.64 with 255 strikeouts and 55 walks.

“I told the team the other day, ‘If you want to win in the SEC, you pitch, you throw strikes, you don’t walk people and you field,”https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2024/mar/18/arkansas-baseball-hogs-receive-every-no-1-vote-in/” Van Horn said. “Some days you hit, some days you don’t.

“To score in this league, it’s hard to get three hits in one inning. So if you can hit it over their head, that helps, and we did all that. That’s why we won all three games.

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“We fielded, we didn’t walk very many and we hit some home runs, hit some doubles and we took care of business.

“The defense was outstanding. A lot of times when you have pitchers that strike out a lot of people, [defensive players] can get on their heels a little bit.

“But our guys, I think they did a great job. Made a couple diving plays, flipping balls, turning double plays.”

Arkansas opens its first road series of the season at No. 24 Auburn (13-6, 0-3) on Thursday night. The Tigers were swept at No. 3 Vanderbilt last weekend.

“We’re going to be challenged this weekend by Auburn,” Van Horn said. “We’re going into a tough environment against a team that’s fighting.”

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Arkansas

Arkansas Pie Festival returns April 27 – Talk Business & Politics

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Arkansas Pie Festival returns April 27 – Talk Business & Politics


The Arkansas Pie Festival is set to return to Cherokee Village, Ark., on Saturday (April 27) as a partner of the World Food Championship, the biggest Food Sport event in the world.

As an official qualifying event for WFC, the Arkansas Pie Festival will award one Golden Ticket to its champion making them eligible to compete in the Dessert category at the international cooking tournament this fall.

It will host a competition between commercial pie makers, home chefs, and students. Judges and attendees will be able to sample pies of all varieties before crowning a people’s choice and champion baker. Pies will also be displayed and auctioned to support the Spring River Innovation Hub.

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“The Arkansas Pie Festival is back and bigger than ever”, said festival co-founder and Cherokee Village community developer Jonathan Rhodes. “We’ve seen the excitement building around the local community and throughout the state thanks to our partners like The World Food Championship. The Arkansas Pie Festival gives us an opportunity to promote Arkansas, bring people together in Cherokee Village and support our small businesses. And…who doesn’t love pie?”

In addition to pie tasting, festival goers will enjoy live music entertainment on the FNBC Stage, food trucks, pie eating contests, shopping at the Arkansas Pie Pop-up Shop and the opportunity to meet Miss Arkansas 2023 Cori Keller. The festival also includes a Pie Day 5K race sponsored by White River Health and the Pie Fest Pup Parade.

Kat Robinson, Arkansas travel writing and leading authority on pie, serves as Festival co-chair. Kat has written a book oabout Arkansas Pie, “A Delicious Slice of the Natural State,” and recently released a second edition, “Another Slice of Arkansas Pie.”

Robinson will be available to sign her guides and other Arkansas food-related books. Robinson will lead judging with a host of Arkansas celebrities including Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp, Director of Arkansas Tourism Dalaney Thomas, and Arkansas Democrat Gazette Restaurant Writer Eric Harrison.

Festival proceeds will support STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) programming and education through the community’s Spring River Innovation Hub.

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Another one | Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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Another one | Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


FAYETTEVILLE — The No. 14 University of Arkansas softball team scored seven runs in the first inning and Morgan Leinstock pitched a shutout Sunday to defeat No. 15 Alabama 8-0 in five innings Sunday in the rubber match of the series at Bogle Park.

The Razorbacks (32-12, 11-7 SEC) won their fourth consecutive series, all of which have come against ranked opponents and followed the same pattern — win, loss, win.

Arkansas previously won series over Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina.

“It’s a matchup of toughness,” Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel said of rubber matches. “It’s a matchup of response. It’s a matchup, for us, a situation we’ve been in winning the series last four times.

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“It’s coming off the loss on Saturday and having to respond and grab the momentum back. … It just continues to show their toughness and their grit and their character. It’s a sport of series and when you win the series and you find a way to win two of the three, it’s huge. And so I’m just really proud of them.”

The Razorbacks recorded their first run-rule victory since winning 8-0 in five innings at Texas A&M-Commerce on March 18.

Alabama (31-12, 8-10) lost its second series in a row and was defeated by the Razorbacks in a rubber match for the second consecutive season. Arkansas took series over Alabama in back-to-back years for the first time.

The Razorbacks scored two runs in the series entering Sunday’s game, but were able to chase Alabama ace Kayla Beaver in the first inning with an onslaught of runs.

Arkansas sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning. The seven runs surrendered by Beaver, a graduate transfer from Central Arkansas, tied her career high and her most this season.

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“She doesn’t have many innings like that,” Deifel said. “She doesn’t have many outings like that. … And it looked a lot of ways. It wasn’t just like we were teeing off: it was a dribbler that we beat out, it was the home run, it was the flare hit, it was the walks and it was not stretching our zones and just doing whatever it took to pass the bat.

“She is a very, very talented pitcher and competitor and we knew that it was going to take a relentless approach to get to her.”

First baseman Bri Ellis began the scoring with a two-run home run deep over the wall in left-center field on the game’s third at-bat. Ellis’ 14th homer, which leads the team and ranks third in the SEC, put Arkansas ahead 2-0.

“I myself knew I had to make an adjustment because I just haven’t really been feeling at my best these past few games,” Ellis said. “I did the best I could in pregame to make any kind of adjustment and just kind of slow it down, do a little less.

“I knew what pitches I was going to get, and I knew that the best pitch I was going to see out of her hand was a screwball or whatever it is she’s throwing on the inside half. I knew that I wasn’t going to have success with the outer-half drop ball so I was letting those go, and after two of those came, I kind of had a feeling I was going to get something inside for a strike. So I was sitting on that pitch and I got it.”

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After a base hit by Kennedy Miller and a pair of walks loaded the bases, Rylin Hedgecock shot a single to right-center field on the first pitch she saw to score two runs. Arkansas extended its lead to 5-0 on the next at-bat when a wild pitch by Beaver scored Raigan Kramer from third base.

Two walks issued by Beaver loaded the bases again for the Razorbacks and forced a pitching change.

Jaala Torrence relieved Beaver. Nia Carter blooped a two-run single off Torrence to shallow left-center field, which was lost in the sun by Alabama shortstop Kenleigh Cahalan and gave the Razorbacks a 7-0 lead.

The big first inning came less than 16 hours after Alabama scored five runs during the fifth inning of Game 2 to defeat Arkansas and even the series. It was an emotional game for the Razorbacks, marred by an apparent missed call that led to Alabama’s big fifth.

“It was an emotional game last night,” Deifel said. “It was a frustrating game and it was a late game. … I know I didn’t sleep much last night with a quick turnaround and just the feel of the game last night. And so for them to show up ready to go, ready to make a statement and ready to respond, it was huge.”

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Leinstock, who pitched nine scoreless innings during the Razorbacks’ 1-0 series opening victory Friday, tossed another shutout. The right-handed graduate transfer from Southern Miss allowed 3 hits, 1 walk and struck out 5 to record her 12th victory.

“She’s a fighter in every sense of the word,” Deifel said of Leinstock. “For her to just set the tone in the first inning, make a statement throughout the game, and our defense have her back … it’s just really special.”

Torrence pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for Alabama before she was replaced by Alea Johnson to begin the fourth.

A single by Carter and double off the wall in center field by Cylie Halvorson gave the Razorbacks runners in scoring position with one out. Hannah Gammill extended Arkansas’ lead to 8-0 a sacrifice fly heading into the fifth.

Leinstock and the Razorbacks’ defense stranded an Alabama runner at second base in the fifth inning to protect the eight-run lead and enforce a run rule.

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“It’s a game of mindset,” Deifel said. “It’s a game of, ‘How are we going to reset our mindset? How are we going to respond? How are we going to show up when things aren’t going how we want them to?’

“In softball, you have a lot of practice in that. Now this one had a lot more emotion to it, but for them to just start the day new and want to control what we can control — and I keep saying it — I’m just really proud of their response from last night to today.”

The Razorbacks recorded eight hits and drew five walks against Alabama’s pitchers. Carter led Arkansas with a 3-for-3 performance at the plate and tied Ellis and Hedgecock with a team-high two RBI.

Arkansas is scheduled to begin a three-game series at No. 7 LSU at 6 p.m. Central on Friday on SEC Network-Plus.



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Former Arkansas men’s basketball star Bobby Portis is a finalist for NBA Sixth Man of the Year | Whole Hog Sports

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Former Arkansas men’s basketball star Bobby Portis is a finalist for NBA Sixth Man of the Year | Whole Hog Sports


FAYETTEVILLE — Former Arkansas men’s basketball forward Bobby Portis was named a finalist for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award on Sunday. 

Portis, who has been a standout performer with the Milwaukee Bucks this season, averages 13.8 points and 7.4 rebounds.

The other two finalists are Minnesota Timberwolves forward Naz Reid and Sacramento Kings guard Malik Monk, who graduated from Bentonville High School and played for new Arkansas coach John Calipari at Kentucky. The finalists were announced on TNT prior to a first-round playoff game between the Bucks and Indiana Pacers. 

Should Portis win, he would be the second former Razorback to win the award following Corliss Williamson in 2002.

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Portis, who is from Little Rock, led a storied Arkansas career. He was named SEC Player of the Year in 2015, becoming the first Razorback to earn the title since Williamson won back-to-back awards in 1994 and 1995. He was a finalist for national player of the year following his sophomore campaign and was a second-team All-American.

He was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Since then, he has played for the Bulls, Washington Wizards, New York Knicks and the Bucks. 

He won the 2021 NBA championship with Milwaukee.



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