Holt ready for Diamond Hogs’ starring role from the start in 2024
on 2024-02-05 20:56 PM
BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Arkansas senior Peyton Holt reminded one of his younger teammates of an old baseball adage Monday afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium.
That’s don’t get two outs, walk Hudson White and Kendall Diggs and then leave an off-speed pitch over the heart of the plate.
Holt drove an 0-1 offering from freshman Colin Fisher over the left field fence for three-run homer in what turned into a wild, four-inning 10-7 win for White over the Cardinal.
“It felt really good, but I have got to give credit to the two guys in front of me,” Holt said. “We got two quick outs, but they had some unreal ABs (at bats) that led to walks and worked the pitcher down and he just left me a pitch to hit.”
Holt, seemingly entrenched as the starting third baseman, also had an RBI single Monday while hitting in the five spot.
He has hit in all five of the top spots in the batting order in the last couple of weeks of preseason scrimmages.
“We have one of the best line ups I have ever seen so wherever I am at, I am just going to do what I need to do to help the team win,” Holt said. “We don’t really talk about where guys are going to hit, you just know.
“If I am in 5 through 7, I am just do what I can because I have good guys around me. Pitchers know it is a dangerous line up.”
The Razorbacks continue to prepare for a season-opening four game series with James Madison the home debut being Friday, Feb. 16 at 3 p.m.
“We are getting right into the groove and it’s coming up quick,” Holt said. “What do we have – 11 days now. I think we are ready. Everyone is looking really good so we are ready to get going.”
The Razorbacks jumped right into the season last year while playing TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in a tournament at the Texas Rangers’ Globe Life Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
This season they’ll get in the four home games with James Madison before back to Arlington to face Oregon State, Oklahoma State and Michigan.
“I’m excited and it is going to be fun to have the fans here,” Holt said. “It will be fun to get in a groove before we play some really good competition, some really good teams. We are focused on that first series first, obviously. Every game, one at a time.”
Arkansas won a share of the SEC regular season championship last season and hosted an NCAA Regional, but TCU advanced to the College World Series and thus it was a bitter end to the season.
“For sure,” Holt said. “No one likes to lose the last game of their season. So we had a good group last year, but I think this group definitely has more talent. But it’s a crazy game and we have just got to play to our abilities.
“…I think we have a really good group to do something special this year.”
That’s in part because of having a trio of top notch starters in preseason All-American Hagen Smith, Texas Tech transfer Mason Molina and Brady Tygart.
“We have got a really good staff, got a lot of guys with good stuff,” Holt said. “I would say it is one of the best that I have ever seen at this level.
“They have been working really hard to stay healthy and get in shape for the season, get ramped up especially for SEC play. I think it is going to be a good group. They are unreal. It has been a challenge hitting off them this whole fall and spring.”
Holt is expected to be a part of an Arkansas starting infield that will also include second baseman Peyton Stovall, first baseman Jack Wagner or Ben McLaughlin and transfer shortstop Wehiwa Aloy.
Aloy, Reese Robinett, Aloy and Jared Sprague-Lott also homered in Monday’s scrimmage.
“You can’t teach that stuff,” Holt said of Aloy. “The kid rolls up to the field and hits a double and a home run about every scrimmage. He is a special talent. Love having him on our team. The middle of the line up is going to fun to watch this year.”
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn has dubbed Holt a sparkplug.
“I guess it is days when there is a not a lot of energy going around, just being that guy gets it going,” Holt said. “Playing with energy, but not playing with too much emotion where you get out of whack. I think I am one of the guys that can do that. Just being that guy that gets everyone going and playing my game.”
Holt took over at second base when Stovall had to shut down his season early due to a torn labrum.
He would hit .392 with 2 home runs, 17 RBIs and steal all six bases he attempted while playing in 31 games overall in 2023, starting 17 at second base and a pair at third.
Holt, a former Greenwood football and baseball star, has a new mindset this season while knowing playing time will be aplenty.
“Just being able to play free and play with a lot of energy,” Holt said. “Last year, it was like fighting to get some playing time, stepping up when I needed to.
“This year, no one is like guaranteed a spot, but I m just playing loose, playing my game. It is going to be a fun group to play with.”
Photo by John D. James
(Last updated: 2024-02-05 20:56 PM)