BIRMINGHAM, AL – Arkansas skipper Dave Van Horn has been named the 2023 SEC Coach of the Year.
Van Horn, in his 21st season as head coach, led the Razorbacks to their fourth SEC championship and second in the last three seasons. Arkansas also won its seventh SEC Western Division crown under Van Horn and fourth since 2018.
Van Horn was voted SEC Coach of the Year for the third time in his career, also winning the award in 2004 and 2021 after leading the Hogs to their second and third conference titles, respectively. He is one of three active coaches, along with Vanderbilt’s Tim Corbin (3) and Florida’s Kevin O’Sullivan (3), to be named SEC Coach of the Year at least three times.
Four Razorbacks were named to All-SEC teams by the league’s head coaches, led by Hagen Smith’s first-team selection at starting pitcher and All-Defensive honors. Kendall Diggs picked up second-team recognition at designated hitter, while pitcher Gage Wood and outfielder Tavian Josenberger garnered Freshman All-SEC and All-Defensive praise, respectively.
Smith, the Hogs’ first starting pitcher to earn first-team SEC honors since Ryne Stanek in 2013, has been used in several capacities this season. The left-hander began the campaign as Arkansas’ No. 1 starter and transitioned to a “wild card” role at the start of SEC play due to injuries to the pitching staff before settling back into the Hogs’ starting rotation.
For the year, Smith has made 15 appearances with nine starts, including five in SEC play, and boasts an 8-1 record with a team-leading 2.56 ERA and two saves over 63 1/3 innings of work on the mound. The true sophomore, who is also a semifinalist for the College Baseball Foundation National Pitcher of the Year Award, has struck out a team-high 93 batters and limited opposing hitters to a meager .191 batting average this season.
Diggs, the 55th All-SEC honoree in school history, is slashing .314/.451/.566 with 10 home runs and a team-leading 56 RBI through 51 games this year. The true sophomore, who leads all Razorback batters in walks with 41, has racked up 55 hits, including 12 doubles and one triple. During SEC play, Diggs has posted a .291/.437/.495 slash line with three homers and a team-high 33 RBI in 30 league games.
Wood, the 56th All-SEC selection in program history, is 2-0 with a 3.81 ERA and 41 strikeouts over 28 1/3 innings this season. The right-hander leads the Hogs in saves with five, all of which have come in SEC play. Wood is just the fourth Arkansas freshman pitcher since 2003, Van Horn’s first year at Arkansas, to record at least five saves in a season.
Josenberger, the 57th All-SEC selection in Razorback history, earned All-Defensive recognition in the outfield. A converted infielder, he has posted a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 116 total chances as the Hogs’ everyday centerfielder and recorded a team-leading seven outfield assists while helping turn five double plays.
Smith also secured a spot on the SEC All-Defensive Team alongside Josenberger. The Razorbacks’ ace has not committed an error on the mound this season and limited opposing base runners to just two steals all year.
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Note to Our Readers: The previous story was sourced directly and in its entirety from the University of Arkansas Office of Communications, Oliver Grigg.