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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Van Horn keeping Hogs among nation’s elite

by Wally Hall | June 26, 2022 at 2:58 a.m.

In the throes of disappointment, some want to blame Dave Van Horn for the Arkansas Razorbacks' loss to Ole Miss that eliminated the Hogs from the College World Series.

It was not his fault.

He had no errors or strikeouts. He didn't walk a batter or give up a home run.

He coached his team just like he has in 796 other wins as the Razorbacks' head coach.

Just like he has when he led the Hogs to three of the past four College World Series (there was no CWS during 2020 because of covid-19).

On Thursday, Ole Miss was the better team.

Not by a lot, 2-0, but Rebels pitcher Dylan DeLucia looked like the second coming of Justin Verlander.

The junior pitched the entire game, scattered four hits and walked none.

He had seven strikeouts.

DeLucia used an array of pitches to keep the Razorbacks off balance at the plate.

That's why there were so many called third strikes instead of the Hogs going down swinging.

The game lasted just 2:06 because of the efficiency of both pitchers.

DeLucia wasn't perfect, but he was close enough for the Rebels to advance to the championship series that began Saturday against Oklahoma.

Van Horn was gracious in his comments after the game.

He and Ole Miss Coach Mike Bianco have a mutual respect for each other.

Bianco got some heat this season when his Rebels went flatter than a New Mexico tortilla.

Penciled in for the College World Series in preseason, at one time they looked like they were lucky to be in the SEC Tournament -- where they eventually played one game, a loss to Vanderbilt.

They were 14-16 in SEC play.

But they are 8-1 since the NCAA Tournament began, the only loss coming at the bats of the Razorbacks.

Arkansas closed the regular season losing four out of six and the whispers of discontent by some fans became grumbles, mostly on social media.

Van Horn addressed it, saying it was from probably about 10% of the fan base.

It is probably more like 3%, but he wouldn't have addressed it if it didn't bother him, and it should have.

Van Horn fits the Razorbacks.

He's competitive. He's a great recruiter. He loves the Hogs and supports every sport.

The Razorbacks are in a great place right now, and far from where they were just three years ago when the basketball team was a little above average and the football team was the worst in modern history.

This season, Sam Pittman led the football team to a New Year's Day win. Eric Musselman took the Razorbacks to their second consecutive NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. Courtney Deifel coached the softball team to a super regional.

In those harsh days, track and field and baseball were consistently good.

Still are.

This baseball team finished the season 46-21.

Throw out the covid cancelled season and Van Horn has won 45 games or more the past five seasons.

His only losing season at Arkansas came after a trip to the World Series.

He's led the Hogs to seven trips to Omaha, Neb.

The question for those few critics: Who would you hire that is better?

Van Horn did not let any disappointment show during or after the loss to Ole Miss.

He was supportive of his players.

"I'm not going to cry when you finish your season in Omaha," he said.

This season started with 299 baseball teams and only eight made it to the College World Series, where storied programs like Texas and Stanford went 0-2.

The 2022 baseball season was a huge success for Dave Van Horn and the Arkansas Razorbacks, and most likely when the immediate disappointment of the final loss diminishes, so will the expectations of a few.

Print Headline: Van Horn keeping Hogs among nation’s elite


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