FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas softball team fell 4-2 in the final game of the Southeastern Conference series against No. 8 Tennessee on Saturday at Lady’Back Yard.
The Lady Razorbacks (22-13, 2-9 SEC) and the Lady Vols (28-5, 6-4) were even at six hits a piece, but UT plated two runs late in the contest to pull ahead and take the series win.
“Right now we’re so close and once we get consistent with the little things, that’s when we’re going to take off,” said head coach Jamie Pinkerton. “They believed they were going to win today, but Tennessee worked out of a jam (in the bottom of the fifth) and won. That’s why they are #8 in the country.”
Senior Katy Henry and the Lady’Backs retired the Lady Vols in order the first two innings. In the top of the third, Danielle Pieroni led off with the first UT hit of the day, a single to center field. Lillian Hammond sacrificed her to second before Kenora Posey reached on an infield error and Pieroni scored on the play. With Posey on second, Chandra Mogan singled to left field plating a speedy Posey and giving Tennessee a 2-0 lead.
Johnson led off the bottom of the fourth with a single through the right side. Dixon followed with a double off the center-field wall that scored Johnson from first. With one out, Smith doubled to left center and pinch runner Amie Hubbard crossed home plate to tie the game 2-2.
“That inning put us back in it and we put the pressure back on Tennessee,” said Pinkerton.
Sophomore Brittany Robison led off the bottom of the fifth with a double down the left-field line, but the next three Arkansas batters were retired by the Lady Vol defense.
A lead-off walk by Pieroni in the top of the sixth was followed by an infield single from Hammond and a wild pitch that put both runners in scoring position. With one out, Mogan reached on a fielder’s choice as the throw from the infield came home in an attempt to putout Pieroni, who slid in just before the tag. Tiffany Huff grounded out to shortstop, but not before Hammond crossed the plate from third to put Tennessee up 4-2.
Henry started the game and went three and one-third innings before she was relieved by Dixon. Henry allowed two runs, two hits, two walks and struck out four. Dixon (8-6) finished the game pitching three and two-thirds innings. She gave up two runs on four hits, walked two and fanned two in the loss.
Ashton Ward started in the circle for UT, was relieved by Megan Rhodes in the bottom of the fourth and reentered in the bottom of the seventh to earn her second save. Ward threw three and two-thirds innings giving up two runs on three hits with eight K’s. Rhodes (13-2) pitched three and one-third innings for the win, allowing just three hits and striking out three.
Arkansas hosts the Border War with Oklahoma State and Tulsa on Wednesday at Lady’Back Yard. Tulsa and OSU play at 3 p.m., followed by a doubleheader for the Lady’Backs. Arkansas takes on the Cowgirls at 5 p.m. and the Golden Hurricane at 7 p.m.
For more information and tickets please call the Razorback Ticket Office at 57-LBACK or log on to LADYBACKS.COM.