Arkansas Picked to Win SEC; Diggs, Smith Earn Preseason All-SEC Honors

on 2024-02-08 10:16 AM

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. ( – The Razorbacks have been predicted to win the 2024 Southeastern Conference baseball championship as voted by the league’s 14 head coaches in the annual preseason poll. 

Arkansas, led by head coach Dave Van Horn, received nine first-place votes. It is the first time since 2013 that the Hogs, who are also predicted to win the SEC Western Division, have been picked to win the SEC baseball championship.

Additionally, Razorback outfielder Kendall Diggs and starting pitcher Hagen Smith were named to the Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team. Both Diggs and Smith earned first-team recognition from the league’s head coaches.

Diggs slashed .299/.436/.547 with 12 home runs, a team-leading 63 runs batted in and a team-high 46 walks over 58 games in 2023. The Olathe, Kan., native, who received All-SEC second-team honors as designated hitter/utility at last season’s end, posted a .291/.437/.495 slash line with four homers and a team-leading 33 RBI in conference play.

Smith, meanwhile, was a consensus All-American in 2023 after making 18 appearances with 11 starts on the mound and posting an 8-2 record with a 3.64 ERA, a team-leading 109 strikeouts and a pair of saves in 71 2/3 innings of work during his outstanding sophomore campaign. The Bullard, Texas, native limited opposing hitters to a .217 batting average.

In SEC play, Smith worked in a variety of roles, making 11 appearances with five starts, and compiled a 5-1 record with a 3.07 ERA. The left-hander totaled 65 strikeouts over 44 innings and held opposing hitters to a .201 batting average.

A semifinalist for last year’s Golden Spikes Award and the College Baseball Foundation’s National Pitcher of the Year Award, Smith was one of two starting pitchers, along with LSU’s Paul Skenes, to receive All-SEC first-team honors one season ago. He became Arkansas’ first starting pitcher to earn All-SEC first-team accolades since Ryne Stanek in 2013.

Smith enters the 2024 campaign as a preseason All-American by Baseball America (first team), D1Baseball (first team), NCBWA (second team) and Perfect Game (first team). Baseball America, D1Baseball and Perfect Game have also tabbed the Razorbacks’ ace as the SEC Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

Arkansas opens the season with a four-game series against James Madison at Baum-Walker Stadium. First pitch on Opening Day is set for 3 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16.

2024 SEC Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll

Eastern Division

1. Florida (11) – 88

2. Tennessee (2) – 75

3. Vanderbilt (1) – 73

4. South Carolina – 50

5. Kentucky – 44

6. Georgia – 36

7. Missouri – 19

Western Division

1. Arkansas (9) – 87 

2. LSU (5) – 82

3. Texas A&M – 68

4. Alabama – 47

5. Auburn – 46

6. Ole Miss – 32

7. Mississippi State – 23

SEC Champion: Arkansas (9), LSU (3), Florida (2)

() – First place votes

2024 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team

First Team

C: Cole Messina, South Carolina

1B: Jac Caglianone, Florida

2B: Cade Kurland, Florida

3B: Tommy White, LSU

SS: Colby Shelton, Florida

OF: Jace LaViolette, Texas A&M

OF: Ethan Petry, South Carolina

OF: Kendall Diggs, Arkansas

DH/UTL: Ike Irish, Auburn

SP: Hagen Smith, Arkansas

SP: Drew Beam, Tennessee

RP: Brandon Neely, Florida

Second Team

C: Devin Burkes, Kentucky

1B: Charlie Condon, Georgia

2B: Christian Moore, Tennessee

3B: Billy Amick, Tennessee

SS: Jonathan Vastine, Vanderbilt

OF: Braden Montgomery, Texas A&M

OF: Dakota Jordan, Mississippi State

OF: Bobby Peirce, Auburn

DH/UTL: Hayden Travinski, LSU

SP: Jac Caglianone, Florida

SP: Carter Holton, Vanderbilt

RP: Alton Davis II, Alabama

(Last updated: 2024-02-08 10:16 AM)