FAYETTEVILLE – In his second season at the helm of Razorback softball, Larabee led Arkansas to a 13-39 overall season and 3-23 in Southeastern Conference play. Arkansas started the year with a record-breaking opening game at the 25th Annual Louisiana Classic in Lafayette, La. Five Razorbacks combined for five triples, breaking the previous single-game record of four. Tori Mort, Becca Carden, Linnea Ketcher, Jennifer Rambo and Chloe Oprzedek each picked up an extra base hit against Prairie View A&M (Feb. 11) to help the Razorbacks to a 16-0 shutout in just five innings.
It took until just the second week of the season for the Razorbacks to make a statement in the world of collegiate softball and take down No. 1 UCLA (Feb. 18) at the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. The defending national champion Bruins held the Hogs to seven hits, but that was not enough to keep the Razorbacks back. Carden scored two runs for UA while Brittany Griffiths and Mortplated the other two runs off the bat of Courtney Breault who went 2-for-3 on the day with three RBI. Arkansas had seven strikeouts between pitchers Layne McGuirt and Kim Jones, giving the Razorbacks the 4-3 edge over the national leader.
After 21 games on the road, Arkansas opened conference play with the first home game of the season in March. In the first Southeastern Conference mid-week doubleheader of the season, Arkansas took the No. 24 Kentucky Wildcats (March 16) to 11 innings. Sophomore Hope McLemore earned her longest complete game of the season with 11.0 innings pitched. With two strikeouts on the day, McLemore and the Razorback defense managed to hold the Wildcats to a two-run tie until the 11th inning before falling 7-2.
In a bit of a hitting slump after the tournament season, The Hogs found the bats against Mississippi State (March 20) when eight hits in the final game of the weekend series gave the Razorbacks some confidence in league play. Senior pinch hitter Amanda Caldwell drove in just her second home run of her career with a grand slam over the left-center wall in game three, but the Razorbacks eventually fell 6-5 in the series finale.
It was a doubleheader against Ole Miss (March 23) that brought the first league win for the Razorbacks. Back-to-back home runs for Carden and a two-RBI single by pitcher Chelsea Cohen helped boost the Hogs to a 7-6 victory in game two of the double bill, marking the first SEC win for Arkansas in 2011.
The first win at Bogle Park came against South Carolina (April 16) with a 2-1 clinch in extra innings. A sacrifice fly by sophomore Breault drove in the ninth-inning winning run for Arkansas.
UA picked up another season-highlighting win near the end of SEC play against the Georgia Bulldogs (April 23). The third-ranked Bulldogs were held to just one run by senior pitcher Kim Jones on Senior Day at Bogle Park. Jones pitched six strikeouts on the day and just one run allowed while the UA defense held four other hits from rounding the bases. Oprzedek hit a two-RBI double to give the Razorbacks their second edge over a top-three opponent.
Jones saw numerous career accolades in her final season as a Razorback. She pitched a career-high 12 strikeouts against Rhode Island (Feb. 13). She had two perfect innings with three strikeouts in a row and allowed just two hits in the five inning, 5-0 win over URI. Jones tossed at least six strikeouts in 10 of her 25 appearances in the circle.The Razorbacks final win of the season came just two days later against Louisiana Monroe when the Hogs took a 2-1 win away from the Warhawks in a midweek game at Bogle Park.
Arkansas finished the 2011 season with a .231 batting average. It was Carden who earned the best batting average on the team. She finished the 2011 season with a .335 batting average with 28 games as the leadoff hitter. She hit career-highs in hits (53), runs (24), RBI (24), at bats (158) and games started (51). The Miami, Okla., native had six home runs on the season to lead the Razorbacks and highlighted her senior season with back-to-back home runs against Ole Miss.
Her senior-season accolades gave Carden the sixth spot in the record book for batting average and slugging percentage in a single season. Her career batting average of .286 is sixth all-time for the Razorbacks as well.
Mort was second on the team with a .294 batting average. The junior tallied 10 RBI off her 20 hits on the season, but it was Ketcher that led the newcomers in batting average. She finished the season batting .292 with five RBI off her 28 hits on the season. The Weber State transfer brought in 11 runs in 2011 and was 6-7 in stolen bases.
The freshmen were led by outfield slapper Macy Burr. She had 16 hits on the season and plated eight runs with one RBI on the year for a .258 batting average.
As a team, UA maintained the fifth best stolen base percentage in a single season with a .787. The team collected 48 steals off 61 attempts. Ten of those successful stolen bases came from Carden and eight came from Ketcher.
Off the field, the Razorbacks garnered several honors as well. Caldwell was honored for the second year in a row with SEC Community Service team honors for her volunteer work around the University and in the community. Carden was named to the Capital One Academic All-District second team selection concluding the 2011 season as well. The senior graduated with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in May of 2010. She completes her first year of graduate school this spring. As an undergraduate, Carden boasted a 3.56 GPA and has maintained a 3.33 while pursuing her master’s degree. She represents one of the 12 student-athletes chosen from District 6 for their achievements in the classroom. To be available for selection, nominees must carry a 3.30 cumulative grade point average.