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FAYETTEVILLE — Caleb Bolden is the latest Arkansas player to enter the NCAA transfer portal, HawgBeat has learned.

Although the right-hander is the Razorbacks’ first departure since the end of the season, he is the fifth to leave the program in the past month and a half. Fellow pitchers Blake Adams, Jacob Burton and Nate Wohlgemuth, and catcher Cason Tollett popped up in the portal last month, before the postseason.

The news comes about a week after Bolden was left off Arkansas’ active roster for the Fayetteville Super Regional because of a sore arm.

Head coach Dave Van Horn seemed to express some frustration that Bolden didn’t tell the coaches about the soreness before his outing in the regional, when he lasted only 1 1/3 innings against NJIT.

“He had some soreness,” Van Horn told reporters following Game 1 of the super regional. “I guess he had some soreness last Friday and maybe he should have told us about it.”

The outing against NJIT proved to be Bolden’s final appearance in an Arkansas uniform. It raised his ERA to 4.50 in 44 innings across 17 appearances. That included 10 starts, as he was one of the pitchers who moved in and out of the weekend rotation during the 2021 season.

It was a disappointing end to what looked like a promising career when he first showed up at Arkansas.

Originally committed to a junior college, Bolden was a late addition to the Razorbacks’ 2017 signing class and showed potential as a true freshman to be a future starter, making a few midweek starts for the 2018 national runner-up team.

However, his production fell off late in the year and he finished with a 3-0 record and 4.40 ERA in 28 2/3 innings. It was eventually revealed that he needed Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss all of 2019.

Before last season was cut short by the pandemic, Bolden was arguably the Razorbacks’ most effective pitcher, posting a 1.12 ERA with 15 strikeouts and only three walks in 16 innings. That came in four appearances, including two starts, and he ended the year in the weekend rotation.

He was one of several pitchers considered for a spot in the rotation heading into 2021, but he began the year in the bullpen and was phenomenal in his season debut, throwing four hitless innings to earn a save against Texas.

Unfortunately for the Razorbacks, Bolden never matched that performance. His next best outing was actually in the semifinals of the SEC Tournament, when he started and threw four scoreless innings against Ole Miss.

Bolden – who started three regular-season SEC games – ended the year with 44 strikeouts and 24 walks to go along with his 4.50 ERA and 1.41 WHIP, plus he gave up a home run in three of his final four appearances.

His departure means Arkansas will now likely be forced to replace at least three of the five main pitchers it used as starters during SEC play, as ace Patrick Wicklander (9 SEC starts) is expected to be taken in the MLB Draft next month and Lael Lockhart (7 SEC starts) exhausted his eligibility.

The Razorbacks could also lose Zebulon Vermillion (3 SEC starts), who was listed as a senior this season but has the option to return because of the NCAA’s eligibility relief granted for 2020, and no announcement has been made regarding the injury to Peyton Pallette (7 SEC starts).

If neither Vermillion nor Pallette pitch next season, that would leave only freshman Jaxon Wiggins, whose lone SEC start came in the regular-season finale against Florida.