FAYETTEVILLE — The No. 22 University of Arkansas softball team defeated the Auburn Tigers, 8-7, in eight innings on Saturday at Bogle Park.
Jennifer Rambo delivered the one-out, game-winning, single in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring Devon Wallace from third. Rambo finished the day 3-for-5 with three RBI and a stolen base.
“I was happy to see Jennifer get that hit,” head coach Mike Larabee said. “She has been putting in a lot of extra time. She has carried her momentum from the Kentucky series into the rest of the season. Rambo has also been playing a very high level of defense.”
Wallace’s game-winning run was her fourth of the contest. The sophomore added to her NCAA-leading walk total with five in the game. Her five walks, an Arkansas single-game record, pushed her total to 73 this season.
“It is just like getting five singles,” Larabee said. “A lot of people don’t realize how well she runs. When we can get her into scoring position she is dangerous.”
Senior captain Hope McLemore came into the game with the Razorbacks facing a four run deficit in the fifth. She made the most of her senior day and pitched 3.1 scoreless innings. McLemore received her sixth win of the season after allowing only two hits.
“There is no quit in this team and they proved that tonight,” Larabee said. “Nobody was in a panic mode today. The character of this team showed tonight. We work hard at practice but we really enjoy this game.”
Also having a nice day at the plate was Clarisa Navarro. She went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Jayme Gee hit the only homerun for the Razorbacks, she finished the night 2-for-4.
“We barreled a lot of balls up tonight,” Larabee said. “To get the win tomorrow we are going to have to swing the bats well again. We have lofty goals for this year.”
The game began with Chelsea Cohen starting her senior day strong and working a scoreless first inning, only allowing a single to Emily Carosone.
Wallace started the bottom of the inning with her NCAA-leading 69th walk of the season and advanced to second on a Clairsa Navarro single. Wallace was hit home two batters later when Rambo lined a single into rightfield. Sierra Bronkey followed with an RBI of her own as she grounded out to first. Navarro scored on the play to make it 2-0, Razorbacks, after one.
With two outs in the second inning Gee added to the lead. She belted a solo-homerun over the rightfield fence. Her eighth longball of the year gave Arkansas a 3-0 lead.
After a leadoff single to start the third inning from Baylee Stephens, Cohen battled back to strikeout Tiffany Howard. Branndi Melero belted a two-run homer over the rightfield fence two pitches later. Her 10th homerun of the year cut the lead to one.
Cohen rallied and retired the next seven batters she faced. Howard broke the streak with a two-out walk in the fifth inning. Melero followed the walk with a single through the right side of the infield. Carosone was then intentionally walked to load the bases for Brooke Lathan. She lined a two-out, two-run single to left. Morgan Estell followed the single with a triple off of the rightfield wall, scoring two more runs. Estell’s third triple of the year gave Auburn a 6-3 lead. This ended Cohen’s day in the circle as she gave way to McLemore. The senior captain allowed a single to Caitlin Jordan to push the lead to four runs.
Wallace and Navarro started the bottom of the fifth inning with back-to-back walks. They both advanced on an Oprzedek groundout to put two runners in scoring position for Rambo. She delivered her second RBI-single of the day and cut the lead to three. Two batters later, Canfield beat out an infield single and Navarro scored on the play to trim the lead to 7-5.
McLemore recovered and retired three straight batters into the sixth inning. Howard ended the streak with a hustle double to left. However, she was left stranded as McLemore blew three strikes past Melero to end the top of the sixth.
The momentum stayed with Arkansas into the bottom half of the sixth as Gee notched a one-out single. Ashley Martindale then entered the game as a pinch-runner and advanced to second on Wallace’s fourth walk of the game and seventh of the series. Navarro approached the plate with two runners on and lined a single to leftfield, scoring the speedy Martindale from second. Oprzedek followed with an RBI-single of her own to knot the score at seven. Two batters later Bronkey skied a ball to deep centerfield, but it was caught to end the inning. The scored remained 7-7 as the game headed to the seventh inning.
McLemore retired the first batter of the seventh before walking Lathan on four straight pitches. She made a nice play to stab Estell’s grounder out of the air and get the lead runner on the next pitch. Jordan lined out to leftfield to end the inning.
Andrea Sullivan made the most of her senior day and hammered a one-out single past the shortstop in the bottom of the seventh. Claire Clark then came on to pinch-run and advanced to second on a wild pitch but was left stranded as the game moved to extra innings.
After a scoreless top of the eighth, Wallace drew her fifth walk of the game, an Arkansas single game record, to start the bottom of the inning. Navarro followed the walk with her third hit of the day and advanced Wallace to second. Oprzedek followed the single with a perfect bunt down the third-base line to advance the runners. That brought up the red-hot Rambo. She smashed a single through the right side of the infield and Wallace crossed the plate for an 8-7 win.
Next up, will be game conclusion of the Auburn series at Bogle Park. The series finale is slated to begin at 11:30 a.m. The Sunday game will also be the regular season finale as the SEC tournament starts Wednesday.
Download: Game Two Auburn.pdf