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Andy Hodges

Keeping spring momentum with long break Pittman’s concern

With his players having about a month of basically being on their own, Sam Pittman is relying on their character to keep improving.

After an incredibly busy month and a half everything has slowed down to a crawl around Arkansas sports over the weekend.

It’s a big change for Dave Van Horn, who wasn’t really sure exactly how he was going to handle the long break especially after Missouri State canceled a midweek game due to covid issues.

There’s no way of knowing how badly that frustrated the Bears, but Van Horn wasn’t exactly thrilled with the development, especially playing two games at South Carolina and ending up with a Saturday AND Sunday off for the first time in awhile.

He’ll figure it out. Van Horn is the best college baseball coach in the country, so fans should have zero worries there.

Sam Pittman is probably the one having to deal with the biggest potential headaches. His players will have some light conditioning requests but are pretty much on their own until late May.

“We can’t make them, but certainly would like them to,” Pittman said after last week’s concluding spring scrimmage. “I expect them to.”

To be honest, that’s probably not a concern. Dealing with the NCAA’s answer to free agency in the ongoing effort to hang onto some degree of control over million-dollar businesses being run by 18-22 year-olds creates bigger pains for coaches.

Arkansas lost a couple of more last week and the only people who really know aren’t talking so it is what it is. While the Hogs may have some players that would be difficult to replace in my opinion, those two weren’t on the list.

Pittman has the most number of people to deal with and there are some communities in Arkansas with less people than he has to oversee.

He finally got a full spring practice after not even seeing his team on the field due to the covid thing. That will only be a positive.

They have been asked to do some weight-lifting to stay in shape and get a couple of weeks off to go home. They won’t really be back on campus until probably the last full week of May in what has turned into a year-round deal.

Keeping spring momentum is what every coach wants to see.

“We didn’t have a bad practice and we moved forward each day,” Pittman said summarizing the spring last week. “We got better.”

Now that has to continue in a conference where it’s hard to advance because the other teams have scholarship players and get better, too.

Pittman is confident.

“We’ll continue to get better just because of the character of the kids we have on our team,” he said.

And that’s the hope heading into a crucial month.

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