Smith back in rotation, Stovall likely out at Mississippi State

By: Matt Jones Matt Jones's Twitter account
Published: Thursday, May 4, 2023
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.
( Andy Shupe)
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 left-handed pitcher Hagen Smith will start the Razorbacks’ series opener at Mississippi State on Friday. 

It is the first time since SEC play began March 17 that Smith (6-1, 2.64 ERA) has been announced as a starter prior to a series. He was Arkansas’ No. 1 starter early in the season, but pivoted to what coach Dave Van Horn called a “wild card” role after early-season injuries to other key pitchers. 

Smith has closed six SEC games and started twice at Ole Miss and Georgia. He has a 3-1 record and 2 saves in SEC play, and has a conference-only ERA of 3.49. 

“He’s known for a week that he’s going to do this,” Van Horn said. “He’s had plenty of time to prepare…I think he’s looking forward to going out there and starting a game.” 

Hunter Hollan, who has been Arkansas’ No. 1 starter in conference play, is likely to start either the second or third game of the series. The delayed start will give Hollan more rest for a leg injury that has coincided with shorter outings in recent weeks.

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Hollan (6-2, 3.79 ERA) was pulled after four innings and 83 pitches last week against Texas A&M — his shortest start in SEC play. 

“He’s healthy, except he’s got a leg that has been bothering him,” Van Horn said. “It seems to be getting better.” 

Right-hander Brady Tygart, a Mississippi native, is also likely to start one of the final two games as he continues his comeback from a sprained ulnar collateral ligament that caused him to miss eight weeks. Tygart made his return last week with a 20-pitch start against Texas A&M, and his pitch count is likely to increase to around 35 this week. 

Second baseman Peyton Stovall is not likely to play at Mississippi State, Van Horn said, due to inflammation in his right shoulder. Stovall throws right-handed and bats from the left side.

“I don’t even think I’m going to put him on the roster,” said Van Horn, who added that either Peyton Holt or Harold Coll will start in his place. “I’m going to let him rest that shoulder another five or six days. He’s not ready yet.” 

Stovall could be seen grimacing while playing in the field late during last week’s series finale against Texas A&M. The injury, which has persisted for six to eight weeks, has also affected his hitting, Van Horn said Monday.

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Stovall has a .253 batting average while primarily hitting second in the order, and his average is .193 in SEC play. He hit a grand slam during the Razorbacks' 7-5 victory over Texas A&M last Friday, but was 2 for 13 during the series.

Without Stovall, Arkansas will be missing the hitters who batted first through third for the majority of the season. Lead-off hitter and center fielder Tavian Josenberger is out with a hamstring injury, and left fielder and three-hole hitter Jared Wegner has a broken left thumb. 

Van Horn said Monday that Wegner might be available for next week’s series against South Carolina. Josenberger might be available for that series, too, Van Horn said, but added that his return is more likely the following week for the regular-season finale at Vanderbilt. 


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