FAYETTEVILLE – The Arkansas coaching staff and its players are taking two separate approaches to this weekend’s Super Regional against Missouri State.

FAYETTEVILLE – The Arkansas coaching staff and its players are taking two separate approaches to this weekend’s Super Regional against Missouri State.


Dave Van Horn and his fellow coaches are acting like they have house money. A 12-12 start back in the early spring and there were some serious doubts. Why not them, he thinks.


Joe Serrano and his teammates are acting like they’re the favorites. They’re better at baseball and even if they don’t have the best pitching and hitting, they’re a bunch of dirtbags.


Makes sense, then, when Serrano says the Razorbacks (38-22) have been a player-run team for the last few weeks. It also follows Van Horn admitted he’s as relaxed as he can ever remember as coach of this team.


But that’s not to suggest there’s any dissension. It’s just different. Appropriate for this season. If in baseball, more than any other sport, a coach’s job is to meld the players, then it’s come together perfectly this season.


"It seems a little bit different. In (2012) we had older leadership. We went to the World Series and there was a lot of older guys. This year it seems like there’s some older guys, but not as many older guys as we’ve had in the past," Serrano said. "I feel like we’ve all kind of integrated. There’s not like a certain class where it’s the older guys and the younger guys. It’s a team."


If that team beats the No. 8 national seed Missouri State (48-10) two out of three times this weekend, they’ll head back the World Series, back to Omaha, a place only Serrano has been. Game one starts today at 3:35 p.m. at Baum Stadium.


The Razorbacks shouldn’t, actually, be hosting. They’ll play in the visitor’s dugout for the opener, even. But it’s in Fayetteville instead of Springfield, Missouri, because Missouri State didn’t put in an offer to host despite being the national No. 8-seed. The Bears’ home stadium is shared with the Springfield Cardinals of Double A minor league baseball. The Cardinals have a homestand this weekend.


So between the luck of the bracket draw and the unexpected continuance from that March start, tickets sold quickly. Online ticket brokers are re-selling seats as high as $200. That’s a little higher than the cost when Missouri State visited Baum on March 31.


It’s only the second time under Van Horn the Razorbacks have hosted a Super Regional. The first time – 2004 – they ended up in Omaha.


"Our fans, they’ve been good. We’ve had our bad weeks and our great weeks and for the most they’ve shown up," Van Horn said. "The more you got, the more they expect. I wouldn’t have it any other way."


The Bears won the one-off game in Fayetteville in March. Neither team, though, showed its hand, especially. Both went with their then-midweek/Sunday starters. Andy Cheray worked 5 1/3 innings for Missouri State, James Teague went 4.


Arkansas ace Trey Killian will get the ball today. He only remembers that game as the turning point for the Razorbacks’ season. Near it, anyway.


"That was a point in the season we weren’t playing very well. We don’t try to think about back then too often other than we had a big turnaround point," he said.


Arkansas went 19-6 from over the rest of the regular season. They finished fifth in the SEC, didn’t lose another conference series and nearly drew a host spot for the Regionals.


Van Horn will take it, anyway; even if he did cede a little bit.


"Man, I want to win worse than anybody this weekend. If we play another week or three more weeks, that’s great, but this team, they overcame a lot of things," he said. "A lot of times it takes games to figure out how you’re going to run your team. You can practice all you want, scrimmage all you want, it doesn’t tell you a whole lot. We finally figured it out and the players responded and they did it."