Diamond Hogs' captains selected

Arkansas pitcher Hagen Smith (33) throws against Louisiana Tech during an NCAA Baseball game on Friday, March 10, 2023, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

FAYETTEVILLE — Kendall Diggs, Hagen Smith and Peyton Stovall were selected by their teammates to serve as captains for the Arkansas baseball team this season in voting announced this week.

Coach Dave Van Horn revealed the selection of captains in a video conference with reporters.

Smith is a junior left-handed pitcher who has served as starter and reliever during his first two seasons. The 6-3, 215-pounder from Bullard, Texas, had an 8-2 record with 2 saves last season and he led the Razorbacks with a 3.64 earned-run average. Smith notched 109 strikeouts and 42 walks in 71 2/3 innings.

“I mean, I don’t know if I’ve ever had one player get so many votes,” Van Horn said. “I mean it was almost unanimous. Forty-something guys. Super excited about him.”

Diggs has also been unselfish and versatile, working as an infielder, designated hitter and finally a right fielder to cap the Hogs run to the 2022 SEC regular season championship with a 43-18 overall record and a 20-10 SEC mark.

A junior from Olathe, Kan., Diggs hit .299 with 12 home runs and a team-high 63 RBI last season.

“He was kind of quiet his first couple of years,” Van Horn said. “This year, a lot more verbal, works hard. The players love him.”

Stovall, a junior from Haughton, La., battled injuries last season while compiling a .253 average with 5 home runs and 31 RBI.

The two-time team captain suffered a torn labrum injury that needed surgery and was lost for the season in May.

“I thought it was big that the players voted for him again,” Van Horn said. “We have so many new guys, and this is a guy who didn’t play on the field in the scrimmages all fall. But I think they saw his work ethic, his rehab work, and they know his talent level and the way he talked to the guys this fall.

“I feel super excited about the three guys they selected as captain. If you had asked me I probably would have taken the same three guys.”

The Razorbacks added a recruiting class that had been ranked No. 1 in the country but dropped to No. 2 by Baseball America after the Major League Baseball amateur draft to a solid nucleus coming off the SEC title.

Arkansas, which dealt with injuries to key players all season, was eliminated in the NCAA regionals at Baum-Walker Stadium by a hot TCU team that qualified for the College World Series.

The Razorbacks’ team meeting Wednesday included the presentation of their SEC championship rings.

“What bothers me is we won the SEC championship and a lot of people didn’t even realize that,” Van Horn said. “I mean, we won the SEC two out of the last three years, whether we tied with Florida or not. I just felt like the season ended prematurely. It was kind of sad. I felt bad for the team. They weren’t really celebrated.”

The Razorbacks open the 2024 season on Feb. 16 with the start of a four-game set against James Madison at Baum-Walker Stadium.