Southern Miss pitcher Will Armistead out for the season

Published 1:16 pm Thursday, April 25, 2024

HATTIESBURG — Southern Miss will be without one of its top pitchers for the rest of the season.

Right-hander Will Armistead has torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and will not play again in 2024, Southern Miss head coach Christian Ostrander said.

“It’s an acute chronic tear in his UCL, which means it was an old injury that’s hardened up but it tore there again. Unfortunately for Will, unfortunately for us, he’ll be done for this year,” Ostrander said at a press conference Wednesday.

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Armistead split time between the bullpen and starting rotation in 2023, and thrived in both roles. He had a team-best 2.09 ERA in 43 innings across 16 appearances.

This season he moved into the rotation as the Saturday starter and was 1-1 with a 5.49 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 41 innings. He started in his first nine outings, then came out of the bullpen last Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.
Armistead threw four scoreless innings in the Golden Eagles’ 13-3 win over ULM, with five strikeouts. However, following his last pitch, Armistead felt pain in his elbow. An exam revealed the damage to his UCL.

Ostrander said Armistead worked through a partial UCL tear heading into the 2023 season, but the ligament finally gave out.

“A partial tear of a UCL ligament, you can still do it. It might not feel great. He shut down and rested then and what happens is it scars up and heals itself, and it lasted until this point,” Ostrander said. But it’s always going to be a little weaker. This surgery will require them to do a reconstruction of it by probably getting a ligament out of his knee or wherever it might be.”

Armistead has one year of eligibility remaining — he played two years at Itawamba Community College before coming to Southern Miss — but Ostrander said he wasn’t sure if he would return. The injury typically requires a full year to heal, meaning Armistead would likely miss most or all of the 2025 season as well as the rest of 2024.

“He has the capability of having another year. At this stage of the game it would be hard to think it would be in time for next season,” Ostrander said. “With reconstruction of the UCL, that’s a good 12 months. But that could file for a redshirt next year and he could come back for year six if he’d like, and we’re certainly going to provide the opportunity for him to do that.”

Southern Miss (26-15, 11-7 Sun Belt Conference) will begin a big conference series against Louisiana-Lafayette (31-12, 15-3) Friday at 6 p.m. in Lafayette. All three games will be streamed on ESPN+.

Louisiana has a four-game lead in the Sun Belt standings with four league series remaining. Southern Miss is tied with Troy (28-14, 11-7) and Coastal Carolina (27-14, 11-7) for second place, and is one game ahead of James

Madison and Georgia State who are both 10-8 in conference play.

A head-to-head showdown with the first-place Cajuns is both a chance for the Golden Eagles to catch up and to separate from the rest of the pack.

“This is what it’s about. This is why we put the uniform on and why I coach — to try and go out there and win and beat ‘the best,’” Ostrander said. “Right now they’re the best in the league. That’s the team we have to get over.”

Ostrander wasn’t sure who would fill Armistead’s spot in the rotation. Colby Allen started last weekend against Louisiana-Monroe and pitched three innings, before Armistead came in from the bullpen for the next four.

Ostrander said one of the three games against Lousiana-Lafayette will be a “TBA” game as far as pitching goes.

“It’ll really come down to where we’re at. In all likelihood it’ll be that third game, so it really comes down to what’s available. Who have I already used, this, that and whatever,” Ostrander said. “By game three we feel pretty good about how to get them out and you’ve just got to execute. You figure out who can do that. I’m not going to say it’s a guy that’s already started some. It’s going to be the best available option that we feel at that time.”

• Friday, 6 p.m.
• Saturday, 2 p.m.
• Sunday, 1 p.m.
• All games will be streamed on ESPN+ and on radio on 620 AM

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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