The University of Arkansas softball team faces No. 1 Tennessee in a Southeastern Conference three-game series Saturday and Sunday in Knoxville, Tenn. The games begin at 12 p.m. both days.
The Lady Razorbacks dropped a conference doubleheader to No. 2 Alabama Wednesday. Arkansas fell 9-0 in five innings and 2-5. The Lady’Backs went 2-6 last week, defeating North Dakota State 2-1 and Nebraska 5-4.
Sophomore Whitney Cloer led the Arkansas offense Wednesday, going 3-for-5 with a double. She was followed by freshman Jessica Bachkora who was 3-for-6 with one run scored, and senior Rachel LeMaster, who went 2-for-5 with one run scored and one RBI.
LeMaster and Bachkora are on six-game hitting streaks, tying their longest of the season. LeMaster hit .556 during the streak, with 10 hits, four runs and two RBIs. Bachkora hit .429 with nine hits, two doubles, one triple and three runs scored. Both players started the season with a six-game hitting streak.
Arkansas’ Best Batter
LeMaster hit .423, collecting 11 hits and three runs last week. She had a season-high three hits twice, and against NDSU March 18 also had a season-high two runs. LeMaster hit one of two RBIs in Saturday’s game against NDSU leading the Lady’Backs to a 2-1 win.
Cloer and junior Samantha Buckner both had game-winning hits this weekend. Against Nebraska on Sunday, Cloer hit her second home run of the game and third of the year in the sixth inning, a two-out, two-run shot to right center, giving the Lady’Backs the 5-3 lead. Buckner hit an RBI single in the seventh inning Saturday to give Arkansas the 2-1 victory against the Bison.
Win Number Three
Freshman pitcher Miranda Dixon went 2-0 earning her third win of the season Sunday against Nebraska. Dixon allowed just one earned run and had nine strike outs in four appearances and 18.2 innings pitched this past week. Dixon also has the lowest ERA on the team at 3.52.
It’s Out of Here
Junior Dayna Huckabee tied the career home run record March 18 with a two-out, two-run blast in the first inning against Nebraska. She hit five home runs this year and 12 in her career.
Pinkerton Approaches 200 Wins
Head coach Jamie Pinkerton is three wins away from 200 career victories with 197 wins as a Division I head coach.
Lady’Back Home Run Records
The Lady’Backs hit three home runs, a team game record, in two contests this season, March 4 against Louisiana-Monroe and March 18 against Nebraska. The previous record was two.
Huckabee leads the team with a .527 slugging percentage, 58 total bases, 23 RBIs and five home runs. She is also the team leader with seven multiple-RBI games, including a game March 3rd against Northern Iowa where she had five RBIs.
Fanning the Opponent
As of March 20, junior Katy Henry was fourth in the conference in strikeouts with 136. Tennessee’s Monica Abbott led the way with a commanding 319 K’s while Auburn’s Anna Thompson was second with 166. South Carolina’s Melissa Hendon sat third with 146.
Leading the Way
Jessica Bachkora continues to lead the Lady’Backs with a .357 batting average. She also has team-highs 41 hits, 21 runs, seven doubles and a .383 on-base percentage.
Bachkora and LeMaster lead the team in stolen bases. Bachkora is 13-for-15, and LeMaster is 13-for-17. The Lady’Backs have 37 stolen bases as a team.
No. 1 Tennessee (30-2, 8-2 SEC) swept South Carolina in a midweek doubleheader Wednesday. Shannon Doepking hit a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning giving the Lady Vols a 2-0 victory over the Gamecocks in game one. Megan Rhodes pitched five innings, allowing one hit with six strikeouts to claim a 1-0 shutout in game two. The Lady Vols registered a three-game series sweep of Mississippi State with 5-1, 2-1(8) and 3-0 victories this past weekend. The Lady Vols have a team batting average of .311 and a team ERA of 0.57. They are led by senior pitcher Monica Abbott who has 338 strikeouts and 15 shutouts this season. Tennessee lost to Florida (0-4) March 10, and Ole Miss (4-5) March 14.
Versus the Lady Vols
Tennessee leads the series with Arkansas 18-10. The Lady Vols swept the Lady’Backs in last season’s three-game series in Fayetteville.
Run Rachel Run
Rachel LeMaster is approaching the career stolen bases record of 72 by Dana Gulick. LeMaster currently sits second with 66 stolen bases.
Dixon Homers Three Times
Freshman Miranda Dixon hit three home runs and was 7-for-7, helping the Lady’Backs to two victories March 4 at Lady’Back Yard. Dixon put Arkansas up 6-5 against Northern Iowa with a two-run shot on two outs in the fifth inning. Against ULM she hit a lead-off home run in the fourth inning to bring the Lady’Backs within one run of the Warhawks, and homered again in the seventh to put the Lady’Backs up 8-4. Dixon had seven hits, seven RBIs and four runs on the day. She also marked a new Lady’Back Yard record, hitting two home runs in a game.
Bachkora Breaks School Record
Freshman Jessica Bachkora broke the school record for most triples in a single game on Feb. 25 against Missouri. Bachkora hit two triples, breaking the previous record of one. She is the only player in the SEC with two triples in a game.
Arkansas was selected to finish fourth in the SEC Western Division. The Lady’Backs received 37 points trailing LSU with 14 points, Alabama with 15 points and Auburn with 30 points. Tennessee was unanimously voted as the overall champion with 10 votes while Florida received one vote.
New Faces on the Field
The returning letterwinners are joined this season by eight new faces. Freshmen Jessica Bachkora (Overland Park, Kan.), Hannah Cicioni (Rogers, Ark.), Miranda Dixon (Edmond, Okla.), Teighynne Hulsey (Edmond, Okla.), Jess Reed (Fayetteville, Ark.), Brittany Robison (Owasso, Okla), Jessica Waddle (Chickasha, Okla.) and sophomore-transfer Dara Clark (Farmington, Ark.) all compete for playing time in 2007.
Amanda Caldwell of Victoria, Texas, Lauren Chisom a Bentonville, Ark. native, Leslie Dixon from Edmond, Okla., Lauren Iverson of Grove, Okla., Emily Jones a Joplin, Mo. native, Kim Jones from Lenexa, Kan., Jacey Juden of Arkansas City, Kan., and Wynne, Ark. native Layne McGuirt signed national letters of intent to play softball at Arkansas and officially become part of the Lady’Back program in the 2007-08 academic year.