Van Horn goes to work with Team USA


FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas baseball season ended earlier this month when the Razorbacks lost to Virginia in the Charlottesville (Va.) Regional.

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn still has a busy summer ahead of him, though.

Van Horn began leading the USA collegiate national baseball team through workouts in Cary, N.C., earlier this week in preparation for its summer tour. He was selected to coach the team and is working with a staff that includes Texas A&M’s Rob Childress, New Mexico’s Ray Birmingham and Pepperdine’s Steve Rodriguez.

“I think it’ll be a great experience,” said Van Horn, who assembled the team through a series of conference calls with the coaches the past few months. “I’ll get to coach some great kids. I would say probably of the 24 kids, more than half of them, or maybe 20 of them will probably play in the big leagues one day. So it should be fun.”

There are 33 college players in camp for Team USA, which will begin an 11-day Red, White and Blue Tour with an exhibition game against the Catawba Valley All-Stars in Cary tonight. Van Horn and his staff will use the exhibitions — which will include games in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia — to eventually trim the roster to 24 players for international games in the Netherlands and Cuba.

The pool of players includes Arkansas pitcher Trey Killian, who received an invitation to try out last week.

“Trey did a tremendous job for us in the SEC this year,” Van Horn said in a statement. “We had some coaches that really wanted to give him a chance to make the team and I think it is deserving. When you look at his numbers with innings pitched, strikeouts and hits per inning he is as good as anyone.”

Killian — who went 4-9 with a 2.30 ERA as a sophomore — said in a statement released by the Razorbacks that getting the opportunity to make the collegiate national team is a “big honor.”

“It will be a humbling experience going out there with the best talent in college baseball,” said Killian, who will return to Arkansas to lead the pitching staff next season. “I have had a chance to play against a couple of the guys on the team and I’m going to go out there, give it my best shot and hopefully make the team.”

Van Horn will lead the collegiate national team through a five-game friendship series against Chinese Taipei from July 1-5. Then the team will play a three-game series against Japan from July 6-8 before the national team heads overseas.

The collegiate national team will participate in Honkbal-Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands from July 11-20. They will wrap up their summer tour by traveling to Cuba for a five-game series that runs from July 23-27.

“We’re going to play the big boys,” Van Horn said. “They’re a bunch of men. We’ll play them five games in their home field. I’m really looking forward to that. The Netherlands is going to be neat. Cuba is going to be an experience.”