FAYETTEVILLE — Kevin Kopps played a big role in No. 1 Arkansas winning two of the three games against Auburn this past weekend.
Kopps came in relief in each of them. In all, he pitched 5.0 innings, faced 19 hitters, allowed two hits, walked one, struck out 11, threw 76 pitches with 54 going for strikes. He earned a save, his third of the season, in the Friday night 6-5 win. Dave Van Horn was very complimentary of him on Monday.
“We’ve already talked to him and he said he felt great,” Van Horn said. “He said he feels really good. You look back at Game 1 we put him in. We were down one run. We usually don’t like to put him in unless it’s even or we have the lead, but we felt like we had nine outs to go, he could hold them down and we would score at least one run. We had a couple of opportunities and didn’t. We were kind of kicking ourselves after it happened.
“He came back on Friday night and pitched great. We came back and won the game. He got through the inning we wanted him to to get us to the next inning. We brought in I think (Jaxon) Wiggins. He pitched great and wanted the ball. His stuff was really good Thursday, real good Friday and not so good on Saturday, not as good. But he was probably our best option and he really wanted to pitch. Just proud of him for the effort and he’s a big, strong kid who knows what he is doing out there.”
On the season, Kopps has an ERA of 0.82. He has appeared in 13 games, all in relief, has a record of 4-0, three saves, pitched 22 innings, 12 hits, two runs (both earned), seven walks and 40 strikeouts.
“The players love Kevin,” Van Horn said. “Kevin gets voted captain three year’s in a row here because of his work ethic, the type of person he is in the locker room, away from the field and everything he has been through to get where he is now. Had Tommy John surgery, redshirts his first year, next year he pitches pretty good, pops his elbow and he’s devastated. All he did was work and work and get bigger and stronger and better. Now he’s better than ever. It’s a good story, but that’s Kevin. He’s kind of quiet. He says something when he’s really has something to say and you’ve got to respect that guy and everybody does.”
Kopps is from Sugar Land (Texas) George Ranch High School.