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Hey Arnold! The Emergence of Florida State's Newest Ace

Florida State returns to Omaha for the first time under head coach Link Jarrett. After missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 45 years last season, Florida State overhauled their roster and returned to the national landscape with vengeance. The Seminoles started this year 19-0 and were the last undefeated team in college baseball. With 26 new players on the roster, a lot of the pitching attention was on UCF transfer Cam Leiter, who struck out 13 over just 5 innings in his Seminole debut in February.

Sophomore lefty Jamie Arnold earned the Saturday role and quietly began racking up results. He didn't give up an earned run over his first four starts and accumulated 32 strikeouts to just 5 walks in 26 innings. When Leiter went down following the Louisville series in late March, Arnold became Florida State's primary arm. In 17 starts this year, he's had 10 quality starts.

Arnold made the opening rotation for the 'Noles as a freshman in 2023, but things did not go to plan for the lefty. The Tampa native went 2-5 with a 6.34 ERA in 24 appearances as a freshman, with just 8 starts. He gave up more walks last year (27) than this year (22) despite throwing 56.2 more innings this season.

"Last year as a freshman, it was obviously tough," Arnold said. "We didn't have a great year last year."

Link Jarrett credits a conversation the two of them had in the middle of last season when Arnold was struggling.

"I wrote what I thought were the top left-handed arms looking forward to next year's draft," Jarrett said. He explained to Arnold that he could be right there with those pitchers. "You want to be in that conversation," he told the struggling first year, "and I don't know what to tell you the other side of this board is." Jarrett continued the story. "[We] just wanted to make him understand how good he could be at this."

Arnold has flourished this season and was one of two pitchers in the conversation for ACC Pitcher of the Year, which ultimately went to Wake Forest's Chase Burns. The young ace went 11-3 with a 2.77 ERA this year and struck out 155 batters over 100.2 innings pitched. He even earned a save in the ACC Tournament against Georgia Tech. He had double digit strikeouts five times and nine strikeouts or more in 12 of his 17 starts. The highlight of his season had to be the 17 strikeout performance on May 10th at Pittsburgh-- a game Florida State actually lost 1-0.

Arnold credits the previous year's struggles and his confidence as the reasons for his success. "Just learning from everything we went through last year and going to summer ball this year," he said, "And just getting innings in [have made me] confident. And that's pretty much the biggest piece, I think, is confidence."

Jarrett credits his maturity rather than the young man's confidence. "His mentality has matured. He's matured in day-to-day work, realizing the trajectory and the potential," Jarrett said. "The individual still has to own it and attack it and do it every single day with some intent and some energy. And he's done it. So then when he walks out there, you're starting to see a more physical kid, a more confident kid, a more determined kid. The fastball, slider, and the changeup is coming along."

With Hagen Smith, Trey Yesavage, and the aforementioned Burns all sitting at home this week, Jamie Arnold might be the best starting arm left in the College World Series. But he's not worried about that, he's just enjoying the team and the season.

"It's been awesome. We're having fun, getting wins is fun," Arnold said back at the end of April following a win over Duke in Durham. "This year has flown by, and last year felt like eternity. This year's been quick, and I think it's all because of winning. I just have a lot of confidence in these guys and just going out there and playing with them is fun. And that's been a big part of our success."

With another year until he's draft eligible, it's possible that we've yet to still see Jamie Arnold's best. But Link Jarrett knows that whatever happens, Arnold is going to grind out a result.

"Sometimes you think with him, wow, that's a tough matchup, and he absolutely carves," Jarrett explained. "Then other times it looks like a good matchup, and it's more of a dogfight from pitch one than you would think. It's just part of it, but the maturity, the growth, the thoughtfulness of what he does, that's what stands out to me the most."

Arnold will be facing his biggest test tonight when he faces the nations most explosive offense in Tennessee. It'll be the best pitcher left in the competition facing the big sluggers from the Volunteer State. And I cannot wait to see what unfolds in Omaha.

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