Not Quite a Pioneer: Arkansas Coach Goes Back to Batesville Well for Next Promising Hurler

Gage Wood, Mark Brissey, Arkansas baseball
photo credit: Baumology / courtesy of Mark Brissey

Arkansas pitching coach Matt Hobbs will soon have a family affair of sorts in his team meetings with the verbal commit of heralded in-state recruit Mark Brissey, a Batesville native who is the nation’s No. 110 overall prospect in the 2025 class.

It isn’t as if Hobbs is exactly breaking new ground here by going to Independence County for an elite pitcher. He already has another Batesville High product on his roster in sophomore Gage Wood.

Of course, having a close confidant does come with its advantages. In an interview with Best of Arkansas Sports, Brissey highlighted Wood’s willingness to share daily routines, workouts and a fair warning of what to do and not to do. He also detailed the Razorback staff’s emphasis on explosive movements, such as broad jumps and vertical jumps.

Growing up with a father who loved baseball, Brissey fell in love with the sport in his own right through analytics. Calling himself a “math guy,” the super analytical nature and how numbers come to life in production is what drives Brissey on the mound. 

That analytical fondness and the ability to perform under the pressure of a former collegiate head coach, Tony Roepcke, has given Brissey the opportunity to prepare himself for SEC competition. 

Roepcke, a long-time successful coach at the NAIA level with Lyon College in Batesville, was hired as the Batesville High Pioneers’ head coach in 2022 and is entering his second season coaching Brissey.

“One thing I’ve noticed is it’s cutthroat,” Brissey said. “If you don’t perform, you don’t play. It’s one thing I am thankful for because this past season and this season are very similar to what it will be there (Fayetteville).”

The Evolution of Mark Brissey

According to Perfect Game, Mark Brissey has been a stalwart on the high performers lists.

After performing well in a showcase event in August, Brissey earned highest honors for the 2025 performers, along with other notable 2025 recruits Quentin Young (No. 2 overall, LSU commit), Brady Ebel (No. 6 overall, LSU commit) and Anthony Pack Jr. (No. 8 overall, Texas commit).

Playing against and with such high-level competition has opened up a plethora of motivation for the uber talented pitcher.

“You notice that there is someone better than you,” Brissey said. “There is always someone that is pitching better than you, having a higher velocity, better control.” 

Playing for the Sticks, one of the most prestigious travel ball organizations in the country, has also allowed Brissey to connect to other recruits.

“I usually try to connect pretty quickly to the guys in my class who commit to Arkansas,” Brissey said. “I know 16 of the recruits personally in the 2025 class. I played with a bunch of them with the Sticks.”

Brissey attributes his success in part to the development of his lethal changeup and the jump in the velocity of his fastball following an injury. However, the thought of just throwing hard isn’t what’s driving him.

“You know velocity has always been my thing since I was little,” Brissey said. “Throwing hard isn’t being a pitcher. You can throw 93 mph and not be very good. Locating all of my pitches for a strike is very big for me.”

However, the success of his changeup followed the disappointment of injury. While pitching in a showcase event on MLK weekend in 2022, Brissey fractured the olecranon bone, which connects to the UCL. In a non-surgical rehab, doctors ordered a six-week rest and then a 12-week progression throwing program.

With the changeup becoming his pitch of choice post-injury, he has reaped the benefits of such a devastating offspeed pitch. Perfect Game scouts note that the changeup can be a “real weapon” because of how it mimics the heater, including with his arm slot.

(READ NEXT: The current Arkansas baseball team is gearing up for the 2024 season)

Committing to Arkansas Baseball

Following the setback and the spike in production, Mark Brissey’s recruitment picked up, but he knew from the start there was only one destination for him.

“I started getting calls in the summer in between eighth and ninth grade,” Brissey said. “I was coming off the arm injury, my velocity shot up from 80-83 to 86-90 mph. Being from Arkansas, there was only one place I wanted to go, and I knew that early in the process.”

Following a productive camp invite at Texas A&M, the coaching staff discussed the potential of an offer. He called voicing his excitement to Sticks coach Chase Brewster, who had been in contact with Razorbacks pitching coach Matt Hobbs, advocating on Brissey’s behalf.

“It doesn’t matter,” Brewster told Brissey. “By the end of the week you’ll be a Razorback.”

The following weekend, Brissey attended an Arkansas baseball camp and performed admirably, earning an offer on the spot from the home state program. 

“I immediately stood up and shook their hand and accepted,” Brissey said. “My recruitment only lasted a week and I haven’t fielded any calls since.”

Following his commitment, Brissey said he’s been in contact with Hobbs quite frequently: “I could pick up the phone right now or shoot him a text and he’ll answer any question I have. He’s been great.” 

Brissey has been on campus for one unofficial visit this past fall, which included taking in the fall classic, pictures in the Razorback uniforms and sideline passes for the Mississippi State football game.

The trip also allowed him to spend quite a bit of time with Lance Davis, who he considers one of his best friends, and Carson Wiggins, the younger brother of former Arkansas pitcher Jaxon Wiggins. Davis and Wiggins are Arkansas baseball signees in the 2024 class.

Brissey has also built relationships on the current roster through Wood while also crashing on a couch quite often for the weekends in Fayetteville. 

“Through Gage I’ve met a lot of the players on the current roster,” Brissey said. “They all know me and I know them. I go and spend the weekends with him quite often.”

Another future Hog hurler the northeast part of the state fans to get behind, but for a while longer will still need a couch to crash on for those Fayetteville visits.

Luckily, he knows a guy.



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