It took a little while longer to solidify a rotation for Opening Weekend. Razorback Baseball head coach, Dave Van Horn announced a solid lineup of starting pitchers for this weekend’s series against Illinois State.
Friday night’s starter is four-year journeyman, Connor Noland. This will be the senior’s first start in a opening weekend series since the 2020 season against Eastern Illinois.
It is no secret that the Greenwood, Ark. product has struggled during his recent appearances on the mound. However, sources close to the baseball team say Noland is ready to be a leader and is throwing his best stuff on the mound since he was a freshman. Noland was a Perfect Game Freshman All-American and named to the SEC All-Freshman team in 2019.
During his Razorback career, Noland has a 6-5 record and a 4.07 ERA.
True freshman, Hagen Smith is said to be a stud. He currently has a 98 mph fastball with a slick slider. Smith was dubbed the top left handed pitcher in Texas and the fifth overall prospect in the 2022 class by Prep Baseball Report. He also completed seven no-hitters as a high school senior.
The Bullard, Texas native stands 6’3 and 200 pounds and takes complete demand from the mound. According to MaxPreps, the Hog freshman held hitters to a 0.35 batting average and a 0.19 ERA as a senior in Texas.
Will his unhittable ways continue in college? We shall see on Saturday against the Redbirds.
Then, there is my favorite to be breakout pitcher of the year for the Razorbacks, Jaxon Wiggins. Early on in his freshman season Wiggins was phenomenal and throwing nasty stuff from the mound. The Roland, Okla. native made 17 appearances as a true freshman posting a 3-1 record, a 5.09 ERA and was the second leading pitcher in saves with four, only behind the legendary Kevin Kopps.
Wiggins pitched two innings in a start against fourth ranked Tennessee in the championship game of the SEC Tournament, striking out five batters while allowing just one run on four hits.
In his college baseball debut in 2021, he came in relief and lit up the gun with multiple blazing 100 mph fast balls. If he has added a couple of more pitches to his elite fastball, Arkansas won’t lose many Sunday games.