Arkansas’ Stovall ready for banner 2024 campaign

By Dudley E. Dawson
on 2024-02-05 11:15 AM


Whenever University of Arkansas second baseman Peyton Stovall takes the baseball field these days, he does so with a big smile on his face and a renewed sense of love for the game of baseball.

He does so after having the joy taken away last season as he played through pain before eventually having to shut it down and have surgery June 8 on a torn labrum.

“You kind of have a different mindset when something’s taken from you for so long that you love to do,” Stovall said after a recent scrimmage. “For me, like baseball, I wasn’t really doing anything for eight or nine months. Just really grinding out rehab day in and day out and so it just brings another level of joy and passion to the game for me.”

After not getting a bat during fall baseball as he rehabbed, Stovall is facing as much live pitching as he can before Arkansas opens the season Friday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m. against James Madison in the first of a four-game series. 

He is hoping to improve on last season’s .295 average, 5 home runs and and 31 RBIs all accomplished despite the bum shoulder.

“…Just continuing to try to get back, seeing as much live pitching as I can before the season starts,” Stovall said. “That’s a big thing for me, still trying to get that comfortable feeling back in the box. It’s going to take some time, but it’s been awesome. Super grateful to be back out here.”

Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn has planned to have Stovall lead off the season.

“If we started tomorrow, that’s probably who I would hit leadoff,” Van Horn said. “He can swing the bat extremely well, he’s got a good eye, he’s a lot stronger than he was last year at this time. Really seeing improvement of him driving the ball the other way. Getting Stovall back, man he’s been amazing. Again, fielding, accuracy of his arm has been great.”

A former Haughton, La., prep standout, Stovall came to college as a second base prospect, but started at first base as a freshman because of a team need.

Stovall hit .295 with 6 homers and 31 RBIs and was at his best in his team’s 11 postseason games while hitting .429 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 2022.

That included a 5 for 6 effort in a College World Series elimination game in which Arkansas downed Auburn 11-1.

Stovall is anxious to be return to the College World Series this season and expectations are high for the defending co-SEC regular season champions.

The Razorbacks are ranked No. 2 nationally in Perfect Game’s preseason pol, third by both D-1 Baseball and USA Today and fourth by the NBCW. 

“I just think honestly is speaks more to Coach Van Horn than it does to us – the success and the longevity of his career and how great of a coach he is,” Stovall said. 

“I truly believe he is the best coach in the country and best infielder’s coach in the country. He makes us better every single day. He is super tough on us and it makes us better.

“Ultimately I think all the credit goees to him, but we also have a great freshmen class – like top 3 and a top five transfer portal class.” 

Photo by John D. James

(Last updated: 2024-02-05 11:15 AM)