The significance of the Razorbacks’ transfer catcher is now evident.

Kendall Diggs, one of Arkansas’ top hitters heading into the preseason, is grappling with injury once again after aggravating his shoulder.

“It’s bothering him again,” coach Dave Van Horn remarked on Thursday. “We’re not sure if he’s going to start tomorrow or not. The pain’s starting to go away, and then he hits the wall again.”

Diggs’ batting average in the SEC stands at .208, a drop from .291 the previous year. His slugging percentage has also decreased by 120 points.

However, Diggs isn’t solely responsible for this decline. His transition from being one of Arkansas’ most dependable hitters last year to struggling to maintain his conference batting average has created a gap in the Razorbacks’ lineup.

This is where transfer catcher Hudson White was expected to step in. He was anticipated to bolster the lineup with his exceptional on-base skills and hidden power. With a slash line of .296/.397/.550, Van Horn had enough confidence in him to place White in the lead-off spot for the season opener while Peyton Stovall was sidelined due to injury.

Despite starting the season with a 5-for-14 performance, including a home run on opening day, White hasn’t been able to maintain that level of play. Five of his ten doubles came in the first month of the season. Following his first homer of the season against Kentucky, he endured a 111 at-bat homerless streak. Consequently, his slugging percentage dropped to .402 compared to .550 from the previous year.

Nevertheless, there are indications that White might be the solution to provide a spark to the struggling offense. He finally broke the homer drought with a 430-foot shot against Kentucky and followed it up with two singles in the series finale.

“It felt good,” White commented after ending the homer drought. “It’s been feeling good. I’ve been making a few adjustments and just trying to stick with my approach and put a good swing on it.”

With the outfield unable to produce consistently, Arkansas needs to look elsewhere in the lineup for offensive contributions. For instance, in 2023, the combination of Diggs, Jace Bohrofen, Tavian Josenberger, and Jared Wegner collectively slugged .494 with 20 doubles and 19 homers. In contrast, the 2024 combination of Diggs, Ty Wilmsmeyer, Will Edmunson, Ross Lovich, and even Peyton Holt, who was shifted to the outfield for additional production, are collectively slugging .326 with just six homers.

White seems primed for a breakout. He currently ranks second on the team in SEC batting average at .303 and aims to rediscover his power and on-base skills just in time to make a final push through the SEC slate and beyond.

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