KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The Razorback softball team couldn’t overcome an early deficit Thursday on its way to an 8-0 loss to No. 3 Alabama in the first round of the 2009 Southeastern Conference Tournament. Arkansas, the tournament’s No. 7 seed, closes conference play with an overall record of 27-27 and a 10-16 mark in the SEC. Alabama advances to the second round where it will take on Kentucky, which upset No. 7 Georgia in the day’s first game.“We came in knowing that our hands were full with Alabama,” head coach Jamie Pinkerton said. “We had a rough stretch the last few weeks dealing with Alabama, Florida and Georgia, and we’ve taken a lot of shots and things haven’t gone our way. You can’t put people on base ahead of their big hitters and Alabama took advantage of those scoring opportunities today.”The first four Alabama hitters reached base resulting in three runs for the Crimson Tide. Lauren Parker singled in the first run and Charlotte Morgan doubled to right center to plate another. A fielding error cost the Razorbacks a third run and at the end of the first, Alabama led, 3-0.Whitney Cloer looked to start a rally in the top of the second after drawing a walk to lead off the inning, but Morgan, the SEC Player of the Year, struck out the next two hitters on her way to retiring the side without allowing Arkansas to cut into the lead.Alabama padded it lead with a pair of two-run innings in the second and third. With runners on first and third, Alabama put runners in motion and on a throw down to second, Kellie Eubanks scored the fourth run of the game. Morgan lifted a sacrifice fly to right field which brought Whitney Larsen home to give the Crimson Tide the 5-0 advantage.Ashley Holcombe hit a two-run shot to left field in the bottom of the third and Morgan collected her third RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth inning. The runs extended the Alabama lead to 8-0 at the end of four.The Razorbacks managed just one hit against Morgan, a single through the left side of the infield off the bat of Cloer in the top of the fourth. With the walk in the second, Cloer represented the only base runner of the day for Arkansas. Morgan pitched four innings of one-hit ball and Amanda Locke, the SEC Freshman of the Year, came on to close the game with a perfect fifth inning.“Whether we earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament is up to the committee,” Pinkerton said. “That decision is out of our hands, so now we just have to wait until the selections are announced later this weekend.”The Razorbacks’ NCAA Tournament hopes are now in the hands of the selection committee. Arkansas will find out its postseason fate when the 2009 Division I Softball Selection Show airs Sunday, May 10, at 9:30 p.m. (CT) on ESPNU. Check your local listings for channel availability. For continued coverage and updates, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
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