After 0-for-20 start, Braydon Webb suddenly one of Arkansas baseball's biggest hitters

FAYETTEVILLE — The Baum-Walker Stadium organist has been getting good mileage out of the Spider-Man theme song this season.

Outfielder Braydon Webb, during whose at-bats the webslinger's music is often played as a reference to his surname, has suddenly turned into one of Arkansas baseball's biggest hitters. The Razorbacks' very own Spider-Man variant leads the team with seven home runs and a .609 slugging percentage.

It's a surprising turn after Webb started the season 0-for-20 at the plate. He was dealing with a lingering quad injury.

When he got his first hit, however, he did it with a swing worthy of Peter Parker himself. Webb hit a walk-off grand slam that gave Arkansas a 13-1 run-rule win over Grambling. He said afterward that the injury was no longer an issue.

In the 12 games since that first hit on March 15, he's batting .369 for the Razorbacks (22-5, 7-2 SEC).

"I was just trying to stay the course," Webb said after breaking out of his slump. "Baseball is a humbling game, and the moment you think you have it figured out, it'll teach you real quick."

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Webb has hit the ball out of the park plenty since his first home run of the season. He hit one in three consecutive games, two against Kentucky and another against Missouri. Against Central Arkansas on Tuesday, he hit his second grand slam of the season.

Some of his hits have come in key spots, too. There was the go-ahead homer in Game 1 against Missouri. In the rubber match against the Tigers, Webb knocked a two-out, two-RBI double that turned out to score the winning runs.

"Once he got over the hump a little bit, the confidence (went) up," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "The skill's there. Hopefully, he'll continue just to do what he does and play solid defense, be a tough out at the plate. Make a mistake and he can hit the ball out of the park."

Opponents seem wary of Webb's recent power surge. In Arkansas' three games against Mississippi State last week, he walked six times. Four of those walks were in the opener. When the Bulldogs finally threw him something he could hit, he belted his sixth home run.

Van Horn said before the season that he had faith in Webb's bat despite the lingering injury. He said he planned on starting Webb lower in the batting order and letting him work his way up. Of Webb's 18 starts, he's been the eight-hole hitter eight times. In Arkansas' last three- game series, he hit sixth.

Arkansas batter Braydon Webb (24) is greeted by teammate Drake Varnado (9) as he crosses home plate after hitting a home run against Little Rock during an NCAA baseball game on Tuesday, March 29, 2022, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
Arkansas batter Braydon Webb (24) is greeted by teammate Drake Varnado (9) as he crosses home plate after hitting a home run against Little Rock during an NCAA baseball game on Tuesday, March 29, 2022, in Fayetteville, Ark. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)

Webb started last season in a slump, too. But unlike this year, he didn't ever have a true breakout. He experienced multiple long hitless streaks, including one stretch of 10 games. He had one game with multiple hits and finished the season with a .174 average.

Van Horn predicted that Webb was due for a big season.

"Webb had an incredible fall until he got hurt," Van Horn said before the season. "He led our team in about everything. I’m talking home runs, batting average, stolen bases, you name it."

Despite his lackluster offense last season, Webb's defense in his move from left to center field this season and his strong fall performance made him a worthwhile bet. In January, Van Horn said Webb was the team's best athlete and compared him to stars Dominic Fletcher and Brett Eibner in terms of defensive talent.

And fans are starting to see Webb as the strong hitter that Van Horn does.

"He hasn’t really done a whole lot to make himself better; He’s good," Van Horn said. "He was already good."

Christina Long covers the Arkansas Razorbacks. You can email her at clong@swtimes.com or follow her on Twitter @christinalong00.

This article originally appeared on Fort Smith Times Record: How Braydon Webb's became one of Arkansas baseball's biggest hitters