FAYETTEVILLE –The University of Arkansas softball team earned a comeback victory over the No. 13 LSU Tigers, 4-3, on Saturday at Bogle Park.
Freshman Stephanie Canfield delivered a two-out, game-winning, single in the bottom of the seventh to give Arkansas a comeback, 4-3, victory. The win broke a 12-game losing streak for the Razorbacks against the Tigers. Sophomore Devon Wallace scored the game-winning run for the Hogs.
“They might start calling us the ‘cardiacbacks’,” head coach Mike Larabee said. “Two weekends in a row we have had dramatic comebacks. I was feeling confident with Canfield coming to the plate, the kid hates to lose.”
Arkansas (26-14) received a brilliant performance from sophomore Kimmy Beasley in the win. She went seven innings and only surrendered one earned run on two hits. She also notched a career-high 12 strikeouts in the contest. The two hits for LSU tied a season low.
“Kimmy Beasley can beat any team in the country,” Larabee said. “She needs to stay consistent, she beat Alabama and California last year, now she has to stay consistent. She has all the tools and there are not a lot of left-handed pitchers in the SEC right now.”
At the plate it was Jayme Gee who paced the Hogs. She went 2-for-3 with a double and a solo-homerun. Arkansas also completed a comeback win last weekend against No. 22 Georgia in game two. The team went on to sweep the Bulldogs, winning game three, 8-1.
“Just like last week this is a huge momentum swing for us,” Larabee said. “Last week we talked about being a consistent program. To be a consistent program, you have to win the series. Now we have something big to play for tomorrow, winning the series.”
The Tigers struck for two runs in the top half of the first. Jacee Blades reached on an error and then scored when Bianka Bell tallied a one-out single. Bell came around to score after a three-base error on the play. After a walk to Allison Falcon, Beasley battled back to strikeout Sandra Simmons. In the next at-bat, Falcon was caught stealing by the Razorback catcher, Gee.
Beasley battled back in the second and retired three of the four batters she faced, striking out Rikki Alcaraz, Kellsi Kloss and Simone Heyward. The sophomore had registered five strikeouts through two innings.
LSU added another run in the top of the third when Bell drove a two-out homerun over the rightfield wall. Her ninth homerun of the season gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Gee answered in the bottom of the third and skied a solo-homerun into the rightfield grass. The junior’s seventh homerun of the season cut the lead to two runs after three innings of play.
Arkasnas’ pitcher, Beasley, cut down the Tigers in the top of the fourth. She retired the side in order, while striking out two. She blew a fastball by Tammy Wray to end the top of the fourth and give her eight strikeouts on the day.
Chloe Oprzedek led off the bottom of the fourth and was hit by a pitch. Two batters later, Clarisa Navarro shot a double off of the rightfield wall to put runners on second and third for Sierra Bronkey. She hit a fly ball to leftfield that was caught, but scored Oprzedek from third. This cut the lead to 3-2, after four.
Clarie Clark singled with one out in the fifth and Wallace followed the single with a walk. This was Wallace’s 101st walk of her career, she is now two behind Sandra Smith’s career record of 103. Two batters later Oprzedek worked a 3-2 count, but popped out and both runners were stranded.
Beasley retired her next five batters, striking out Alcaraz and Wray to start the seventh. The two strikeouts gave Beasley a career-high 11 on the day. She improved her career high to 12 on the next batter and struck out Kloss to end the top of the seventh, putting a lot of momentum into the Arkansas dugout.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh Gee lined a double into the rightfield wall. Ashley Martindale then came in to pinch run and two batters later Wallace was intentionally walked. This put two runners on with two outs for Canfield. She bounced a ball over Simmons’ head at first base. The singled scored Martindale from second as the throw from the rightfielder soared over the catcher, Laruen Houston's head. Wallace was hustling from first to try and win the game. By the time the ball returned to home plate, Wallace had slid, head-first, into home, giving Arkansas the 4-3 comeback victory.
Next up, the series concludes with game three on Sunday at 1 p.m. You can watch game three on Razorvision on listen on 88.3 FM, Fayetteville.