Midseason Lull Fuels Arkansas' Postseason Baseball Run

by The Associated Press  on Thursday, Jun. 7, 2012 8:32 am  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

Matt Reynolds was every bit as frustrated by Arkansas' midseason swoon as everyone else around the program.

The Razorbacks third baseman still doesn't fully understand what happened during the 5-8 stretch that saw Arkansas fall from the No. 3 team in the country to nearly out of the rankings altogether.

What Reynolds does know is the Razorbacks (42-19) came out of the struggles closer than ever, and he believes it's that unity that led to a sweep of the Houston Regional last weekend. The 2nd-round draft choice of the New York Mets also believes that bond is what will carry Arkansas this weekend when it travels to Waco, Texas, to face Baylor in a super regional.

The super regional is the third in four years for the Razorbacks, who last advanced to the College World Series in 2009. In order to return to Omaha, Neb., Arkansas must win two games against the Bears (48-15), who are making their first super regional appearance since 2005.

"We have a lot of confidence right now," Reynolds said. "We feel like we have as good a chance as anyone."

The Razorbacks didn't lack for confidence earlier this season, opening 22-3 following a series win at Mississippi State and climbing as high as No. 3 in the rankings.

The success was hardly unexpected for a youthful team that lost in the regional final to Arizona State last season, a team that entered this year with lofty expectations.

What was unexpected was the four-game losing streak that followed the wins against the Bulldogs, with the lowlight coming in the form of a series sweep at the hands of LSU. That started the difficult 5-8 stretch for Arkansas, capped by a loss at Mississippi that dropped the Razorbacks below .500 for the first time this season in the Southeastern Conference.

Reynolds, who is hitting .343 and has a team-high 42 RBIs, said one of the few positives during the stretch was that Arkansas avoided any internal finger pointing or casting blame.

"It was tough, probably one of the toughest stretches I've ever gone through as a player with a team," Reynolds said. "It was tough, but we kept our strength.

"The coaches stayed tough on us, wouldn't let us give up."

The Razorbacks bounced back with a win following their loss against the Rebels, but they fell right back below .500 in the SEC with a loss to open a series against Florida. They followed that, though, with two wins to take the series against the Gators and appeared to have righted things entering the SEC tournament.



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