Matt Jones is the editor of the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has a bachelor's and master's degree in journalism from the University of Arkansas.
Smith named Razorbacks' 32nd All-American
Arkansas reliever Hagen Smith celebrates Friday, April 14, 2023, after recording the final out of the Razorbacks’ 5-2 win over Tennessee at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas pitcher Hagen Smith earned first-team All-America honors by Collegiate Baseball.
Smith, a sophomore left-hander from Bullard, Texas, finished with an 8-2 record, 2 saves and 3.64 ERA. In 71 2/3 innings, Smith had 109 strikeouts and a 1.37 WHIP. Batters hit .217 against him.
He started 11 games and made seven appearances out of the bullpen. The Razorbacks were 14-4 in games when he pitched.
Smith was the team’s No. 1 starter for the first four weeks of the season, but was converted to a closer in SEC play after early-season injuries to Koty Frank and Brady Tygart left the bullpen thin.
His lights-out relief appearances were key to the Razorbacks’ regular-season SEC championship campaign that included 20 league victories. Arkansas was 9-2 in SEC games when Smith pitched.
Pitching in relief, Smith earned three-inning saves against Auburn on March 17 and Tennessee on April 14. He was the winning pitcher in 4 2/3 innings of relief at LSU on March 24 and in four innings of relief against Texas A&M on April 27.
“If we have the lead and a chance to win the game, we’re going to go for it,” Van Horn of the decision to use Smith with a three-run lead in the seventh inning against Tennessee.
Smith is “one of the best arms in the league,” Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said after Smith struck out seven in three innings against the Volunteers.
“Knowing him and knowing Coach Van Horn, they’re probably anxious to get a situation where he’s got the ball in his hand,” Vitello said.
Smith returned to the starting rotation full time late in the regular season and pitched well until the NCAA postseason when he allowed eight runs in one-plus inning against a hot TCU lineup. He returned to the mound the following day and pitched well for 3 2/3 innings during the Razorbacks’ season-ending loss to the Horned Frogs.
Smith was strong in two appearances against the SEC’s highest-scoring team, LSU, which averages 9.3 runs per game. Smith limited to the Tigers to 5 runs and had 17 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings.
Arkansas won when Smith started opposite fellow Collegiate Baseball first-team All-Americans Lucas Gordon of Texas on Feb. 17 at the College Baseball Showdown and Paul Skenes of LSU on May 26 at the SEC Tournament.
He also dueled Skenes, the Collegiate Baseball national player of the year, for a while when he entered a March 24 game against the Tigers. Arkansas won that game, too, in extra innings.
“I remember last year in Fayetteville he shut us out and it was the first time I’d had a team shut out in like five years,” LSU coach Jay Johnson said during an SEC Network interview before the game against Smith at the SEC Tournament. “I was like, ‘Man, this guy is a freshman. We’ve got to deal with him for two years.’
“He’s good. He throws all his pitches for strikes and he’s competitive. You can’t give him anything. You have to stay in the strike zone because if you expand the strike zone, he’s going to take a mile from you.”
Collegiate Baseball named Smith a Freshman All-American in 2022 when he was 7-2 with a 4.66 ERA and started in 15 of 20 appearances. Smith also recorded two saves, including during a 4-3 victory at North Carolina that gave the Razorbacks the first of two super regional wins over the Tar Heels.
Smith had 90 strikeouts and 46 walks, and a .232 batting average against in 77 1/3 innings as a freshman.
Smith is the 32nd individual to earn All-America honors for Arkansas, not counting Freshman All-Americans. Five Razorbacks — outfielder Kevin McReynolds, third baseman Jeff King and pitchers Phillip Stidham, David Walling and Nick Schmidt — earned multiple All-America honors to give the program 37 All-America honors all time.
Smith will not be eligible for the MLB Draft until 2024, so he stands a chance to become the Razorbacks' sixth player to earn All-America multiple times.
Tim Lollar, LHP/DH, 1978
Ronn Reynolds, C, 1979
Steve Krueger, LHP, 1980
Kevin McReynolds, OF, 1980-81
Jeff King, 3B, 1985-86
Mike Loggins, OF, 1985
Ralph Kraus, OF, 1986
Andy Skeels, C, 1987
Troy Eklund, OF, 1989
Greg D'Alexander, 3B, 1990
Phillip Stidham, RHP, 1990-91
Kenderick Moore, 2B, 1996
Ryan Lundquist, OF, 1997
David Walling, RHP, 1998-99
Charlie Isaacson, RHP, 1999
Nick Schmidt, LHP, 2006-07
Jess Todd, RHP, 2007
Zack Cox, 3B, 2010
Brett Eibner, RHP/OF, 2010
Matt Reynolds, 3B, 2012
Ryne Stanek, RHP, 2013
Andrew Benintendi, OF, 2015
Blaine Knight, RHP, 2018
Carson Shaddy, 2B, 2018
Isaiah Campbell, RHP, 2019
Matt Cronin, LHP, 2019
Jack Kenley, 2B, 2019
Heston Kjerstad, OF, 2020
Christian Franklin, OF, 2021
Kevin Kopps, RHP, 2021
Patrick Wicklander, LHP, 2021
Hagen Smith, LHP, 2023
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