How Souza Flipped the Switch in his Hot Start + More from Sweep of Ole Miss

Nolan Souza, Arkansas baseball, Arkansas vs Ole Miss
photo credit: Crant Osborne

FAYETTEVILLE — Nolan Souza hit under the Mendoza Line the entire fall. He did not indicate to anyone who showed up to intrasquad scrimmages that he would contribute to the Arkansas baseball team as a freshman. All the preseason hype was on a fellow Hawaiian, Wehiwa Aloy. 

However, now with a pair of two-homer performances, Souza has played a key role in Arkansas’ 11-1 start in SEC play. He finished Saturday’s game 3 for 5 with 5 RBIs. All three of his hits supplied go-ahead RBIs en route to a 7-4 win that clinched a sweep of Ole Miss at Baum-Walker Stadium. 

Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn credits a mental switch over Christmas break for Souza’s massive improvement from a .154 team-worst average in the fall to a team-leading .357 in 56 at-bats this season.

“You could see it every now and again in the fall,” Van Horn said. “You just thought, maybe it’s a little far off. Maybe it’s going to be his sophomore year. He’ll get better this year. Then after the holidays, we thought, ‘This guy’s really made a move.’ Sometimes the move is more mental.” 

Souza agrees. The change in mentality has done wonders for Souza, whose homers both came with two strikes.

“I think it was good for me to go home and reset after the fall,” Souza said. “I knew there had to be a change after the way my fall went. I felt like sometimes at the plate, I just wasn’t as confident in what kind of hitter I was.”

The Hawaiians played a key role in the sweep of the Rebels this weekend. Wehiwa Aloy didn’t homer like he did the first two games, but he did pick up a couple of singles to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, the longest on the team in 2024.

Aloy has a team-best .674 slugging percentage in SEC play after only slugging .359 in non-conference play. His eight home runs lead the team, while Souza’s six long balls are tied with Kendall Diggs for second.

“Teammates love them,” Van Horn said.  “Just happy for both of those guys.”

Honesty Policy Out the Window for Brady Tygart

While not at his brilliant best, starter Brady Tygart was battling more than just the Rebels’ lineup Saturday afternoon.

The Hernando, Miss., native dealt with swirling winds and was recovering from what he described as a 24-hour cold that led to the coaches sending him home for Friday’s game, Although it was nothing serious, Tygart wouldn’t let a little illness get in the way of facing a school from his home state. 

“I knew I was going to tell the coaches I felt great no matter how I felt,” Tygart said. “I definitely was not going to miss out on this weekend.”

Although Tygart’s final line is rather mundane, both Tygart and Van Horn agree that this was a much-needed bounce-back outing thanks to one key adjustment he made in between starts. Tygart threw all 82 pitches out of the stretch.

“I felt like In the windup my direction wasn’t good,”  Tygart said. “I was just off, something was missing. I kinda felt lost going on the mound, so I was just working out of the stretch subconsciously all week and I talked to coach (Matt) Hobbs about it and he was like, ‘Yeah, if that’s what you feel good with, do it.’”

The right-hander was charged with two earned runs on four hits and three walks while racking up seven strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

Up Next for Arkansas Baseball

The Razorbacks will conclude their home stand with their first two-game midweek series of the year. They’ll welcome San Jose State to Baum-Walker Stadium beginning Tuesday, with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.

Heading into Sunday’s series finale against San Diego State, the Spartans have won three straight games, but are still eight games under .500 at 11-19.

Other Arkansas Baseball Tidbits

  • The announced attendance for Game 3 of the Arkansas vs Ole Miss series was 11,184. That brought the three-game weekend total to 32,649.
  • The Razorbacks have now won 21 straight games at Baum-Walker Stadium, extending the longest such streak in the venue’s history. 
  • This is the first time Arkansas has swept Ole Miss since 2002, which was the final season of legendary coach Norm DeBriyn’s tenure. That means this is the first time the Razorbacks have done it under Dave Van Horn.
  • Wehiwa Aloy now leads the team with six stolen bases after only having two last year at Sacramento State
  • Jared Sprague-Lott raised his average in SEC play by 33 points from .172 to .205 to get out of the team cellar. Although Sprague-Lott didn’t get a hit in the series finale, he walked three times, including in front of Souza’s three-run homer. 
  • Will McEntire and Hagen Smith are in a see-saw battle for the team lead in ERA. McEntire picked up the final two outs of the series and his fourth save dropped his ERA to 1.75, just ahead of Smith’s 1.76.

Arkansas vs Ole Miss Highlights (Game 3)

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Postgame Interviews

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Arkansas vs Ole Miss Box Score (Game 3)


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