Nolan, Kjerstad get league’s player, pitcher honors after first week

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ Heston Kjerstad and Connor Noland have been picked as the first SEC Player of the Week and Pitcher of the Week honors for the 2020 season.

Kjerstad’s honor gets the “Co-“ tag and is his first player of the week award from the conference. It is also Noland’s first pitcher of the week accolade, picking up a co-freshman of the week distinction last season.

Arkansas has never earned both SEC Player of the Week and Pitcher of the Week before the 2020 week one awards.

Kjerstad, a junior outfielder from Amarillo, Texas, put together a 7-for-12 performance at the plate, recording five extra-base hits, including four home runs. He tallied 10 RBIs, scoring six times, walking twice, to finish with 20 total bases.

He began the year with a 3-for-4 performance on Feb. 14, including an RBI single and two solo home runs. It was the fifth time in his career he had hit multiple homers in a game. Kjerstad would accomplish the feat again in the series finale as part of a 3-for-5 day, launching a three-run dinger and a solo hot, as well as a two-RBI double.

All seven hits brought in at least one run during the weekend against the Panthers. Kjerstad finished the series with a .583/1.667/.643 line at the plate in 12 at-bats. He was also named one of Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s National Players of the Week on Feb. 17.

Noland, a sophomore right-handed pitcher from Greenwood, earned the Opening Day win after tossing 6.2 innings on Friday afternoon. He allowed just one run, unearned, on two hits, walking one batter while striking out a career-high 11. Half of the batters he faced, he struck out.

He held opposing hitters to measly .095 batting average at the plate in the opening contest. It was his eighth career performance with one or fewer runs allowed, as he set the tone for Arkansas’ series sweep of Eastern Illinois.

Kjerstad and the Razorbacks face a short week and an extended weekend as Arkansas welcomes Gonzaga to Baum-Walker Stadium for a four-game series on Feb. 20-23.

Information from Razorback Sports Communications is included in this story.