MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. – Home runs from junior Kayla Johnson and senior Samantha Buckner combined with the pitching ofsophomore Miranda Dixon allowing no hits in five innings propelled the University of Arkansas softball team to come from behind and defeat the defending Summit League Champions of Western Illinois University 4-3. The win comes in the fourth of six games at the University of Minnesota Metrodome Classic and improves the Lady Razorbacks to 8-2 on the season.
In the second consecutive comeback win of this tournament, the Lady’Backs rallied from being down 3-1 in the third inning to tie the game in the sixth inning, and win it in the seventh when junior Brandy Baze stole home plate.
“This team is being successful right now because they are doing the little things to win and that’s a trend that I hope continues,” said head coach Jamie Pinkerton. “We are hitting the hitting the ball well and executing in key situations. It was a total team effort.”
The Lady’Backs started strong by scoring in the first inning. Sophomore Jessica Bachkora got on base on a grounder that bounced off the glove of WIU’s Rachel Heagney. Once on base, Bachkora was able to steal second and third base to put herself in scoring position. Teammate Sophomore Sandra Smith’s single gave Bachkora she needed to come home and score the game’s first run.
In the third inning, Western Illinois struck back scoring three runs. The Westerwinds’ Britt Mason got on base and then advanced to second with a hit from Colleen Biebel. Nikki Marinec would then hit a double into center field that would bring Mason home to tie the game at 1-1 and put Biebel in scoring position at third. With no outs, Arkansas called on Miranda Dixon to pitch. Unfortunately, a sacrifice bunt by Racheal Heagney brought Biebel in to take the lead 2-1 and put Marinec on third. Then another sacrifice bunt by Samantha Valentine brought Marinec home to extend the Western Illinois lead to 3-1. Finally Miranda Dixon was able to end the inning by striking out Lauren Furgala swinging.
In the bottom of the third, Kayla Johnson batted first and promptly hit a home run over the center field fence to cut the lead to 3-2. Later in the inning, Arkansas had loaded bases thanks to Smith getting walked, senior Dayna Huckabee’s hit to shallow left field and a bunt by junior Jocelyne Moncrief. But, unfortunately the Lady’Backs were unable to cut the lead any more in that inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Buckner led off with a home run over left field to tie the game at 3 runs a piece. Western Illinois tried to regain the lead in the seventh inning with runners on second and third, but the Arkansas defense was able to close out what would be the Westerwinds’ final at bat.
Miranda Dixon batting first in the bottom of the seventh inning came only a couple feet short of hitting a game winning home run as the ball came just short of the fence and bounced over for a ground-rule double. Miranda Dixon was then able to steal third before Baze came into pinch run. With Huckabee at bat, a wild pitch bounced up and back off the ground and Baze recognized the opportunity to steal home and seal Arkansas’ third win in the tournament and eighth win of the season.
Tomorrow is the final day of the Metrodome Classic as Arkansas takes on two Big 10 opponents. The Lady’Backs play Iowa at 9:00 a.m. followed by Minnesota at 11:00 a.m. For more information about Arkansas softball, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM