Berkeley, Calif. - The University of Arkansas softball team fell to No. 1 California in the Berkeley Regional finals Sunday night. This is the first time in the programs history that it has made it to a Regional final. Arkansas ends its 2012 season with a 29-28 record while going 2-2 in post season play.
"I am very proud of our program and what we have been able to do this season," said head coach Mike Larabee. "We got as far as we have ever been as a program at the University of Arkansas and I am so proud of our players."
Cal came out ready to play in the first game of the day; loading the bases in the top of the first after two singles and an intentional walk. Arkansas's defense was clutch with junior Hope McLemore collecting her first strike out followed by a nice catch by Jennifer Rambo in center field to escape the inning, not allowing any runs to score and forcing Cal to strand three runners.
Cal put the first run on the board in the top of the second after two singles an intentional walk, making it a 1-0 game. A double from Frani Echavarria scored two more runs giving Cal the 3-0 lead.
Rambo was the first Razorback to reach base with a hit to the left fielder who bobbled it allowing time for her to get to first. Oprzedek was patience and rewarded a walk, advancing Rambo to second. Senior Jessica Robison recorded a sacrifice bunt advancing both runners and placing them both in scoring position.
Arkansas could not bring home the two runners, stranding them and keeping the score 3-0 Cal.
Cal threatened again in the top of the third placing runners on second and third, but Arkansas's defense held strong not allowing any runs to score.
Mort recorded the first hit for the Razorbacks in the bottom of the third hitting a line drive at the shortstop and out running the throw to be safe at first. Devon Wallace blasted a bomb over the center field wall bringing home Mort and making the score 3-2 Cal. Clarisa Navarro followed with a single up the middle. Rambo advanced Navarro to second and was safe at first after a hit down the left field line.
Cal struck again in the top of the fourth bringing home three runs with two hits including a two-run home run.
Jayme Gee recorded her first hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth followed by a Mort single down the left line. Wallace was walked to load the bases with one out. Arkansas left all three stranded when the Razorbacks hit into a double play to end the inning.
Cal added to its lead in the top of the fifth with a grand slam by Echavarria giving the Bears the 10-2 lead. Arkansas could not put a run on the board in the bottom of the fifth giving Cal the victory and forcing a second game for the Regional Championship.
Wallace got the Razorbacks going in the second game of the day by hitting a single to left field in the top of the first. Bronkey also recorded her first hit of the game in the top of the first, but no runs were brought in for the Razorbacks.
The Bears collected its first hit of the second game in the bottom of the first from Jayma Reid who hit the ball to left field for a single. They then went on to load the bases and bring home three runs and giving them the early 3-0 lead.
Cal added to its lead in the bottom of the second when Britt Vonk hit a three-run home run over the center field wall giving the Bears the 6-0 lead. Chelsea Cohen was brought into the game in the middle of the second and struck out two batters to end the inning. Cohen went on the strike out five Cal batters.
Freshman Alyssa Bass hit her first hit of the NCAA Tournament in the top of the fifth with a single to left field. She was in to pinch hit for Megan Pearson. Robison followed with a walk to place a Razorback in scoring position.
Wallace recorded her second single of the game down the left field line in the top of the sixth. Bronkey followed with a single down the right field line which advanced Wallace to third. Both runners were stranded. The Razorbacks left 13 runners on base in the two games, while Cal left 18 on base.
Cal put one more run on the board in the bottom of the sixth after a walk and back-to-back singles giving them the 7-0 lead.
The Razorbacks could not put any runs on the board in the top of the seventh giving Cal the 7-0 victory.
Cal advances to the Super-Regional that will be played next weekend against Washington in Berkeley.
"We challenged our players coming back next year to come back better than they are now, "said Larabee. "I feel that we have a really good group of 2012's joining our program that will push our current players. We will be back, once you have been to an NCAA Tournament and have had some success you want to come back and experience it again."
For more information regarding Razorback softball or University of Arkansas athletics, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.