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College  | Story  | 2/27/2024

College Player, Pitcher of the Week

Craig Cozart      Vincent Cervino     
Photo: Hagen Smith (Arkansas Baseball)
February 27

Perfect Game/Pitcher of the Week:

Hagen Smith, Arkansas

Dominating, overwhelming, masterful; you could go on and on with adjectives to describe the outing that Smith put together in his start on Friday. Facing one of the most complete offenses in all of college baseball in the Oregon State Beavers, the 6-3/225 junior lefthander put together one of the most epic starts in recent memory. Using his lively fastball that sat in the upper-90s and peaked at 99 mph, he attacked hitters with the heater and set the stage for his wipeout slider. The fastball is elite in both velocity and spin (2,400+) RPMs but the slider proved to be virtually untouchable as it cruised in the mid-to-upper 80s with late, abrupt bite. The Bullard, TX native would retire the first 15 outs of the game via the strike out and except for a ground out in the 6th inning, 17 of his 18 outs were recorded by punch out. Smith would only need 78 pitches to navigate his 6.0 IP, allowing 3 hits, no runs, 1 walk to go with his 17 strike outs. He would leave the game leading 4-0 but ended up with a no-decision as the Beavers put up some runs later in the game. The Razorbacks look like true national title contenders and it’s obvious they have an ace to run out every Friday night going forward.

Perfect Game/Player of the Week:

Jackson Ross, Ole Miss

The Ole Miss Rebels were in the midst of an early season 4-game losing streak heading into Saturday during their home series, and the team was in desperate need of a spark. That spark came in the form of an offensive outburst and Jackson Ross played a significant part. The 6-2/210 senior from Lakeland, FL transferred from FAU during the offseason and has quickly found a home in Oxford. His team went on a tear and scored 37 runs in 14 innings over the final two games of the series that would both be won via the run-rule. For the weekend, Ross went 8 for 11 with 4 home runs, 5 walks, scored 8 runs and collected 11 RBI. This brings his season batting average to .471 with a SLG% of .917 and an impressive OB% of .588 mainly due to his control of the strike zone as seen with a 9:3 BB-to-K ratio. If the Rebels are going to continue to right the ship and make a return to the postseason, you can be sure Ross will play a major role.

February 20

Perfect Game/Rawlings Pitcher of the Week:

Cam Leiter, Florida State

It looks like the Florida State Seminoles may have struck gold in the transfer portal with the arrival of Cam Leiter as he dazzled in his debut. Taking the ball in the starting role on Opening Day, the sophomore right-hander from Bayville, NJ showed an electric arsenal as he mowed down opposing hitters. The 6-5/218 prospect unleashed a riding fastball that lived in the mid-90s and peaked at 98 mph, generating plenty of swing and miss. He also featured a devastating slider that would find its way into the low-90s with late two-plane tilt. Leiter would work 5.0 IP on 89 pitches, allowing only 1 hit, no runs, 2 walks and led the nation with 13 strikeouts as he qualified for the win in his team’s 11-0 victory.

Perfect Game/Rawlings Co-Players of the Week:

Travis Bazzana, Oregon State

One of the most exciting all-around players in the nation, the Sydney, NS native is a sure-fire Day 1 prospect in the coming MLB draft. The centerpiece of one of the best lineups the Oregon State Beavers have fielded in years, Bazzana got the new year off in style. The 6-0/200 lefthanded hitter is a tremendous blend of speed and power at the plate and his strike zone discipline allows him to reach base at an impressive rate. In his team's (4-0) start so far this season, he is batting .563 as he has already collected 9 hits and scored 6 runs. Slugging an impressive 1.313, he has a double, a triple, 3 home runs and driven in 7 runs on his way to on OBA% of .650 so far. The Beavers have the look of a national title contender and Bazzana will lead the way.

Caleb Cozart, University of North Carolina, Greensboro

The University of North Carolina, Greensboro Spartans got off to their best start since 2019 with a three-game sweep and designated hitter Caleb Cozart played a big role. His club scored a total of 30 runs Opening Weekend and the 6-5/250 righty was responsible for 18 of those runs as he drove in 11 and scored 7 on the weekend. Cozart is a two-way player who will see time on the mound, at first base and most of his time as DH. He finished the series with a SLG% of 1.727 on a double and 4 home runs producing those 11 RBIs. He also walked twice and was hit by pitch once to produce on OBA% of .643 all told. The Spartans have an explosive offense and should be a factor in the SOCON race this year.