JACKSON, Miss. - The University of Arkansas softball team (7-0) defeated Jackson State (1-5) in a doubleheader by scores of 8-2 and 8-0 in five innings, Wednesday in Jackson, Miss.
Leading the charge for the Razorbacks was Kelly Young, a Madison, Mississippi native and freshman. Young threw five scoreless innings, allowing two hits, while striking out five. This brings her strikeout total to 14 through 10 innings. Head coach Mike Larabee was happy for the hometown freshman.
"It was nice for Kelly to come to Jackson and get that shutout," Larabee said. "She is averaging more than a strikeout per inning. She had another great performance tonight."
Claire Clark had the hit of the day in the top of the fifth inning in game two when she belted a ball deep into the left field sky. It soared over the fence for a grand slam, giving the Hogs an 8-0 lead. This was the first grand slam hit by a Razorback since April 7 of last season. Jayme Gee hit the previous slam against Mississippi State. Clark finished the day going 3-for-6 with five RBI. Larabee was excited to see his freshman hitter succeed.
"Break out the rye bread grandma, she hit the first grand salami of the year," Larabee said. "She is a great athlete. It is great to see a kid from Wynne, Ark. come in as a freshman and contribute. She has got lightning in her bat, if she barrels it up, she can hit it a long way."
Game one saw the Lady Tigers get on the board first when Canessa Swanson singled home Tayler Nave. McLemore was able to work out of a runner on third and one out jam when Chloe Oprzedek threw out Swanson at home.
Arkansas started its scoring in the top of the second as Gee singled home Amanda Geile. The second inning scoring continued when Clark hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Sierra Bronkey and giving the Razorbacks a 2-1 lead.
Game one starter Hope McLemore ran into some trouble in the fourth, allowing a leadoff triple to Jasmine Warren. The senior captain then got Sabeana Romero and Ariel Siegel to fly out. McLemore then got Tahlisa Blosser to chase a pitch and ground out.
The fifth inning was not as kind to McLemore. Nave reached on a throwing error when Clarisa Navarro charged a ball and made a tough throw, but it pulled Wallace off the bag at first. That brought runners to second and third with two outs in the inning. After McLemore hit Swanson in the leg, the Lady Tigers had bases loaded with two outs. Warren hit a dribbler to third and Oprzedek could not tag the bag in time. JSU tied the game at two apiece.
Clark led off the seventh with a two-strike double to right-centerfield. Oprzedek followed the double and reached on an error in centerfield. However, the centerfielder was able to pick up the ball and throw out Clark at third. Wallace singled and that left runners on first and second with one out for freshman Stephanie Canfield. She made the most of her opportunity and drilled a single off of the shortstop. Oprzedek scored and the Hogs took the lead, 3-2. Navarro then reached on an error that scored Wallace. Nicole Schroeder followed the run with an RBI of her own, a single to score Canfield. Arkansas led the game 5-2. Geile continued the hit parade with another RBI single, scoring Navarro. Gee then reached on an error, scoring Ashley Martindale and making the score 8-2 Hogs.
McLemore was able to retire the side, striking out two in the bottom half of the seventh and Arkansas took game one by a score of 8-to-2. The Razorbacks scored six runs on six hits and three errors in the seventh inning. McLemore finished game one allowing only one earned run on six hits while striking out six.
Game two's scoring began when the Razorbacks scored their first run in the top of the second as Geile started off the inning with a single down the left field line. Geile then noticed that nobody was covering second and advanced herself. She reached third when Clark grounded out to the shortstop and then scored on a groundout from Gee, giving the Hogs a 1-0 lead.
Young ran into trouble in the bottom half of the second when Vasquez shot a double into left field to start the inning. However she was called out for leaving the bag early. Romero then hit a single into right but was doubled up on the next pitch when Canfield made a great play in right, making the catch and then gunning down Romero.
Wallace notched a one-out single up the middle in the third and eventually scored on a Navarro single up the middle. Canfield also scored on the play after singling to right. That made the score 3-0, Arkansas, after the top of the third.
Young continued to work wonders in the circle, retiring nine of the next ten batters, including four strikeouts, to end the game.
The Razorbacks added another in the top of the fourth when Martindale scored on a Bronkey single down the rightfield line. Martindale pinch ran for Gee earlier in the inning after she hit a single.
The runs continued to pile on in the fifth as Canfield started the inning on first base after an error from the second baseman. She then stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. After two walks, Clark approached the plate with the bases loaded. She took two strikes and then hit a bomb into the left field sky, a grand slam, making the score 8-0 Arkansas.
The road trip continues for the Razorbacks when they head to Tallahassee, Fla. for the Unconquered Invitational. Game one of the tournament will feature Arkansas vs. Hofstra on Feb. 15 at 10 a.m. CT.