Though not in a starting capacity, Brandon Moore has put up numbers worthy of an ace pitcher in the SEC this season.
Entering the week, Moore's 0.95 earned run average was the fourth-lowest in college baseball. The sophomore right-hander has been especially dominant in conference games, allowing just one earned run in 18 1/3 innings.
On Friday, Moore will be rewarded will the most coveted role for a college pitcher, taking the mound in the Razorbacks' series opener at Ole Miss.
"I want to stay within myself and not make the moment too big. Obviously, it's a big moment but there are some things I can control to not put too much pressure on myself.
"I want to go out there and do what I do, let the defense work, just stay calm and pitch."
Starting is nothing new to Moore, who has two starts this year and started 11 times in 2011. But it is a different role than he has been accustomed to this season.
Moore has been Arkansas' designated long-relief pitcher, earning three wins and two saves in 13 appearances. Last week against Kentucky, Moore gave up just two hits in five innings of relief in a Saturday loss.
"To us, Brandon has shown the knack to go a little longer than Barrett," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "He entices a little more contact. He doesn't strike a lot of people out; batters get contact but the ball is moving all over the place.
"We usually bring him in during tight situations. He finds a way to get an out. He's just solid and doesn't get rattled very much."
Moore credited his success this season to staying in Fayetteville last year instead of playing summer baseball. He lost 17 pounds and worked on issues he had toward the end of his freshman season.
"My velocity dropped toward the end of last year mainly because I was probably out of shape," Moore said. "I got my mechanics straightened out last summer and lost some weight. I got in better shape and learned some better ways to keep myself in shape and maintain my health. I think all of that plays a factor.
"We're a little more than halfway through the season so I'm anxious to see how I do the rest of the season."
The Razorbacks (27-10, 8-7 SEC) enter the series at Ole Miss having lost seven of their last 10 games prior to a doubleheader sweep of Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday.
Arkansas dropped a pair of one-run games at LSU and again to Kentucky, sending the team from No. 3 in the national polls to No. 17 in a matter of weeks.
The Razorbacks' offense has struggled in recent weeks, scoring two runs or fewer in four of their last seven losses. In order to spark the lineup, Matt Reynolds was moved to second base while freshman Brian Anderson has a slight edge over senior Bo Bigham for the starting job at third.
Van Horn also said freshman John Clay Reeves will push starter Jake Wise for playing time at catcher after Reeves went 5-for-7 at the plate in a pair of recent starts.
Freshman Joe Serrano also figures to factor into the lineup because of recent offensive production. Serrano went 2-for-2 after entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader and had the game-winning RBI single in the ninth.
"We have enough pitching to get it done, but it's a matter of this offense starting to get rolling and put together a few big games," Van Horn said. "More than anything, it's about getting a big hit here and there, and driving in some runs.
"Baseball is a long season. Hopefully some of those things will start going our way."