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NC State vs. Arkansas Super Regional: Coaches, players meet media

NCAA BASEBALL: APR 12 NC State at Duke Photo by Chris Rodier/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On the eve of the opening game of the Super Regional between NC State and Arkansas, Elliott Avent and Terrell Tatum spoke with media about the matchup, as did Razorbacks skipper Dave Van Horn.

You can read what Avent and Tatum had to say at Inside Pack Sports. Tatum feels like the pressure is on the Arkansas side this weekend, which is hopefully how the whole team is approaching it. The guys looked both confident and loose in Ruston and in the process made advancing look easy.

Do you feel like it’s an advantage for you guys that you’re going to have fun and play, and the pressure to play well in front of fans falls on Arkansas?

I would have to say that I agree with that. In my mind, the way I think about it, no one expects us to come out of this Super Regional. So it’s not really any pressure on us. We’re just here to play baseball, play the game that we know and that we love, and have as much fun as we can.

But the crowd is going to be nuts and ultimately we don’t know how State’s guys will respond to it until they’re out in the middle of it. A little early success would go a long way.

Avent is going with Reid Johnston on Friday, not surprisingly, while Arkansas will be throwing lefty Patrick Wicklander, who is 6-1 with a 2.17 ERA. He pitched five innings of two-hit ball against Nebraska on Saturday, allowing one run while striking out seven.

Arkansas’ lineup had its problems against Nebraska, striking out 30 times in 91 at-bats over three games, which NC State will hope carries over into this weekend. Dave Van Horn knows his team has got to hit better:

“We’re going to have to swing the bats a lot better the next couple of days if we’re going to win this series,” said Van Horn. “We’re hoping we got jump started there in that eighth inning of the last ball game [against Nebraska]. We’re facing a really good pitcher tomorrow who throws a lot of strikes and moves the ball around, has a lot of movement. But we definitely have to get going.”

Arkansas does have some ailments to deal with also. First baseman Brady Slavens (.290/.349/.560) has a bum ankle and struggled in two games last weekend, while 11-game starter Peyton Pallette (67K/20BB in 56 IP) is unavailable. Pallette didn’t pitch in the Fayetteville Regional, either.