Arkansas earns split at final fall event
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Razorback softball team wrapped up its fall schedule with a pair of games Saturday against Oklahoma State and Northeastern State at Bogle Park. After dropping its first game of the day against the Cowgirls, 5-1, Arkansas rallied for a 9-0 win over Northeastern State in the finale to claim a split. The Razorback bats were alive in both games, collecting 21 hits, but defensive miscues and missed opportunities prevented a sweep.“In the first game, I thought we came out and hit well,” head coach Jamie Pinkerton said. “We had as many hits as Oklahoma State. I went with a younger lineup and started the four freshmen to give them experience against a big-name opponent and get those jitters out of the way from the get-go. We did a good job, but we made too many mistakes defensively and walked too many batters which got us into some trouble.”
Oklahoma State opened the scoring with a run in the first on a RBI single by Alysia Hamilton that scored Katelyn Bright who reached on a double. The Cowgirls added a second run in their half of the second inning. With runners at second and third, Razorback catcher Whitney Cloer tried to pick Breana Casaus off at third, but the throw was wide and allowed Casaus to score.
Trailing 4-0 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Razorbacks got a lift from Jessica Robison who led off the inning with a solo shot to left field. The homerun sparked the Arkansas offense that would have runners—Jocelyne Moncrief and Jessica Bachkora—on second and third with no outs. After a strikeout by Leslie Dixon, Kayla Johnson worked a walk out of Oklahoma State starter Alex Villalobos to load the bases.
The Cowgirls went to their bullpen and called Anna Whiddon to the circle. She responded by striking out the next two Razorback batters and leaving the bases loaded.
“We had an opportunity in the fifth to get back in it,” Pinkerton said. “But some things happened there that we have to go back and work on. We didn’t come through in the clutch after the Robison homerun. It’s just one of those things where we gave OSU too many base runners and made too many defensive mistakes. It was good to get Kelsie (Vallies) in there as a freshman although she struggled. She was nervous, but we got the big-school syndrome out of the way.
Oklahoma State tacked on another run in the top of the sixth to bring the game to its final count of 5-1.
The Razorbacks wasted little time getting on the board against Northeastern State in their second game. With two down, Johnson deposited a ball over the fence in left field to give UA the early 1-0 lead.
The real damage came in the top of the second when Arkansas sent 12 batters to the plate and saw seven runs pushed across the plate. The final six runs of the inning were scored with two outs. The scoring barrage in the second was highlighted by a three-run homerun by Robison, her second of the day. The Razorback freshman knocked a shot over the center field wall; Miranda Dixon and Sandra Smith scored in front of her.
“The second game was a situation where we got out and set the tone early,” Pinkerton said. “We took what they gave us and it was just a situation where we did in the second game what we should have done in the first game. We should have been more prepared from the start. I thought we did a good job of hitting the ball where it was pitched. We didn’t pull any weak grounders.
“We also got a good pitching performance out of Layne (McGuirt). No matter the opponent, you have to do the little things. We didn’t in game one, but did in game two. That’s the difference in the ballgames.”
In the circle, McGuirt pitched five scoreless innings, giving up just four hits while striking out six Northeastern State batters. The Arkansas defense stayed clean and didn’t make an error in the win. Lauren Chisolm ended the game with a solo homerun to left field, the Razorbacks’ third of the game and fourth on the day.
Arkansas ends its four-event fall schedule with a 5-3 record. The Razorbacks open their spring season Feb. 6-8 in Hattiesburg, Miss., at a three-day event hosted by the University of Southern Mississippi. For continued coverage of UA softball, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.