Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, alongside Heston Kjerstad, Matt Cronin and Kacey Murphy, spoke to the media on Tuesday morning ahead of this weekend’s series at Georgia. The head Hog and players covered injury updates, national seed talk, road woes and their upcoming opponent, among other things.

KOCH ON THE MEND

Razorback catcher Grant Koch went down with a lower extremity injury in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game against Texas A&M and had to be helped off the field. After the game, Van Horn speculated that it was most likely a sprained ankle but would require further tests. On Tuesday, Van Horn confirmed that Koch does indeed have a sprained ankle, a much better diagnosis than others some had feared.

“He said he felt better than he thought he would. He was walking around yesterday without any crutch or anything, so you know, I think he's day to day,” Van Horn said. “Is he going to start on Thursday? I would say as of now probably not. Maybe not Friday. Hopefully we'll get him back by the end of the series or the tournament. It's a sprained ankle. There's nothing broke. It's just a matter of him healing up.”

If Koch is unable to go, freshman Casey Opitz will set up shop behind the plate just like he didn’t following Koch’s injury on Sunday. So far this season, Opitz is batting .250 with 5 RBIs in 15 appearances.

HOGS NOT CONCERNED WITH NATIONAL SEED TALK

Following this past weekend’s sweep, Arkansas moved to No. 6 in the country according to D1 Baseball’s rankings and No. 5 nationally in RPI. To be a national seed, Arkansas must remain inside the top eight. Depending on who is asked, some believe the Hogs may already have that wrapped up, regardless of the results in Athens this weekend. Either way, Van Horn’s club isn’t feeding into the talk.

“We haven't talked one time with our team about it. They know. If we just keep playing and win enough games, we'll be in the conversation, that's for sure. If we win a lot of games, it'll be easy,” Van Horn said Tuesday. “The strength of schedule is not going down. It's 5 or 6 now. Playing on the road at Georgia, it ought to go to 2 or 3. Then you go to the SEC Tournament, play more teams, if we win some games, we're beating teams that are ranked, it's a neutral site. You know, it's there for us. It's not the major concern for us.”

Freshman left fielder Heston Kjerstad echoed Van Horn’s remarks, stating that he and the club just need to remain focused on earning victories.

“It’s everywhere. You can’t keep your head out of it. You are going to hear it a little bit. You just have to kind of brush it off to the side and keep playing baseball and it will take care of itself,” Kjerstad said.”

According to Kendall Rogers of D1 Baseball, there has never been a national seed with a sub-.500 record on the road. With Arkansas sitting at 5-11 away from Baum Stadium, the Razorbacks are in fairly solid position to become the first program to do just that.

RAZORBACK ROAD WOES

As previously mentioned, it’s no secret that Arkansas has struggled mightily away from its own confines this season. The Diamond Hogs are 5-11 on the road and have yet to win a conference series outside of Baum Stadium. Van Horn knows there’s room for vast improvement but understands that the quality of opponent has had something to do with their troubles.

“We need to play better on the road, win or lose. I felt we've just played OK. We haven't done enough to win obviously. We've played really good teams on the road that are good at home. I mean, you think about Ole Miss and Florida and LSU, I mean they're tough to beat at their place. We just didn't finish series there. We had a chance to win them,” Van Horn said.

Weekend starter Kacey Murphy knows the issues his squad has had firsthand. Despite the road problems, he doesn’t think the Razorbacks need to panic or make a major change.

“It’s no different. We just have to play our game. I mean, we’ve let some slip and we know that. We’re aware of it. We’re going to play as hard as we can. We’re not pressing or anything. We know what we can do and what we’re capable of,” Murphy said.

Arkansas has a chance to earn its first conference series win on the road this weekend in Athens.

SCOUTING REPORT: GEORGIA

In 2017, Georgia baseball had a disappointing season, putting up a record of 25-32 (11-19 SEC). This year, however, the Bulldogs have made a dramatic turnaround, sitting at second in the SEC East at 35-16 (16-11 SEC). Van Horn is well aware that Georgia provides a very real challenge this weekend.

“First off, just the experience in that lineup now. They started four or five freshmen in that lineup last year. They got all nine position players back. Scott Stricklin is a friend of mine…He's a very good coach, got a lot of talent,” Van Horn said. “The pitching has been a lot better. That lineup is a little scary. They've got some guys who can hammer the baseball pretty good. It'll be a great series.”

Hog lefty Murphy pointed out how well-rounded the Bulldogs have become as the season has progressed.

“They’re an all-around club. You can see from their numbers, they can pitch, the can hit, they have a good bullpen. They’re explosive. They can score any time and they can shut you down real quick, so we have to treat them like a top team that they are. It’ll be a good weekend for us,” Murphy said.

UP NEXT…

Arkansas will travel to Athens tomorrow to battle the Georgia Bulldogs in the final regular season conference series on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Game one is scheduled for Thursday, May 17 at 6:00 pm (CT). Blaine Knight will start the series off for Arkansas on the mound