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Three storylines from opposing dugouts for Razorbacks this week

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The time has finally come and the Road to Omaha passes through Fayetteville as Arkansas clinched the No. 5 national seed. But first it has to come through Louisiana Tech, Kansas Tech and Southeast Missouri State. Here are some storylines to keep an eye on as the opening weekend of postseason play approaches.

Running wild cats:
Arkansas has already had trouble taming a Wildcat team that likes to cause chaos on the basepaths, going 1-3 against Kentucky, including an elimination game in the SEC Tournament. The two Wildcat teams profile much the same in one category, stolen bases. The Wildcats in purple, Kansas State, are ranked in the top 10 nationally and rank first in the Big 12 with 127 stolen bases. Centerfielder Brendan Jones already has a season record of 37 stolen bases. Four others are in double figures. Kansas State has only been caught 23 times, for an 84.7% success rate.

Some of MLB’s top talents take the field in Fayetteville:

The Fayetteville Regional is the only region where more than one team has a top 25 MLB Draft prospect for 2024. according to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel. Along with No. 4 Hagen Smith, who is two strikeouts shy of Arkansas’ single-season strikeout record, Kansas State features fellow potential first-rounder Kaelen Culpepper (No. 29 in McDaniel’s latest mock draft). Culpepper enters the postseason with a .316/.410/.533 slash line and 16 stolen bases.

Second trip to Baum-Walker:

Not only does former Razorback Ethan Bates return to his old stomping grounds, this time as a two-way player in a Louisiana Tech Bulldog uniform, but the other two teams in this region are no strangers to Baum-Walker. Louisiana Tech and SEMO played at Baum-Walker in 2023. The Hogs swept the Bulldogs from March 10-12 and defeated the RedHawks’ in a midweek game on March 21. Louisiana Tech returns four starters who appeared in the 2023 box score. series: Bates (1-for-11 in last year’s series), Dalton Davis (2-for-11), Jorge Corona (0-for-7) and Adarius Myers (2-for-12). All four are hitting above .300 on the season this year.

Meanwhile, Nolan Ackerman, Peyton Leeper, Ben Palmer and Josh Cameron from the 2023 starting lineup for SEMO in Fayetteville. The four went a combined 2-for-9 at the plate in a 12-2 Razorbacks victory.

The regional kickoff for the Hogs against SEMO 2 p.m. Kansas State vs. Louisiana Tech follows at 7 p.m. Both games will be streamed on ESPN+.

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