Razorbacks No. 1 in USA Today baseball poll

Razorbacks No. 1 in USA Today baseball poll

FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas baseball team can add another preseason No. 1 ranking to its collection this month.

The Razorbacks hold the top spot in the USA Today Baseball Coaches’ preseason poll, which was released Thursday. It’s the second No. 1 ranking the Razorbacks will carry into the 2013 season after sitting on top of Collegiate Baseball’s poll last week.

Arkansas also is ranked No. 2 in Perfect Game’s preseason poll and No. 3 by Baseball America, which also released its preseason rankings Thursday.

The Razorbacks received 10 first-place votes in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll, which consists of ballots from 31 Division I coaches. The rest of the top five in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll consists of UCLA, LSU, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Arkansas returns 10 pitchers, including All-America candidates Ryne Stanek, Barrett Astin and Colby Suggs, from a team that finished 46-22 and advanced to the College World Series last season. The Razorbacks also have seven position players who earned significant playing time back, including infielder Dominic Ficociello, outfielder Joe Serrano and catcher Jake Wise.

The Razorbacks open preseason practice Friday. Arkansas will open the 2013 season against Western Illinois in Baum Stadium on Feb. 15.


Hornets to be renamed Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS — The Hornets officially revealed their new identity, which will go into effect starting next season.

The New Orleans Pelicans are named after the state bird, the pelican. A series of logos for the Pelicans also was released, including the new team colors of dark blue, gold and red.

The Hornets identity came from New Orleans’ former location, Charlotte.


Stephens ousted in first major semifinal

MELBOURNE, Australia — Sloane Stephens eliminated Serena Williams from the Australian Open, but she could not take down the top-rated player in the world in the semifinal round.

Victoria Azarenka defeated the 19-year-old American 6-1, 6-4 on Thursday in one of two semifinals. Azarenka will play Li Na, who beat Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-2.

One men’s semifinal was played Thursday, and Novak Djokovic feat David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in 89 minutes. He’ll take on the winner of today’s match between Andy Murray and Roger Federer.

— Staff and wire reports