FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas softball team hit four home runs in the second game of a doubleheader sweep against Northern Colorado on a cold, overcast afternoon at Lady’Back Yard on Friday. Arkansas defeated the Bears 6-0 and 12-2.
Sophomores Miranda Dixon and Sandra Smith, senior Samantha Buckner and junior Whitney Cloer each hit home runs, marking the second time the Lady Razorbacks hit four home runs in a game this season.
Arkansas improves to 12-2 with the best start in program history, while Northern Colorado falls to 2-11.
“We had a big day,” said head coach Jamie Pinkerton. “I was really pleased with the way we hit the ball and played defense today. Whenever you have several people in the line up hitting, it makes scoring runs easier and it makes life easier on your pitcher.”
Down 2-0 from a two-run shot by Hilarie Van Otterloo in the top of the first inning, the Lady’Backs answered with hot bats in the bottom of the inning. Dixon evened the score with a two-run homer followed immediately by Smith with a solo home run to center field to give the Lady’Backs the 3-2 lead. Singles by Cloer, senior Dayna Huckabee and Buckner loaded the bases for Arkansas before junior Hillary Freeman doubled to center field, scoring Cloer and Huckabee for the 5-2 lead.
“It’s been a tendency of the team this year that when the other team scores, we answer back,” said Pinkerton. “We just happened to answer back in grand fashion by putting up a five spot.”
The Lady’Backs added three runs in the second behind the bat of Buckner. Smith reached base with a walk, followed by a base hit up the middle from Cloer. With two on and two out, Buckner then launched a three-run home run to left field to put Arkansas up 8-2.
Cloer went yard with a three-run home run to left field in the fourth. She plated pinch runner Lauren Iverson and junior Kayla Johnson. Sophomore Jessica Bachkora also scored in the inning on a wild pitch and the Lady’Backs increased their lead to 12-2, for the five-inning, run-rule victory.
Dixon earned her third win of the year, striking out seven in four innings of work. Freshman Layne McGuirt closed the game with one strikeout in the top of the fifth inning.
Jamie Juelfs dropped to 1-6, giving up five runs in just one-third of an inning.
Arkansas got off to a quick lead against the Bears in game one. In the bottom of the first inning, Johnson reached base on a dropped ball by Northern Colorado at first base. She advanced after Dixon singled to left field. Smith walked to load the bases before Johnson scored on a ground out by Cloer. Huckabee pushed Dixon and Smith across the plate with a hard-hit single through the left side, giving the Lady’Backs the 3-0 advantage.
In the second inning, Bachkora singled between third base and the shortstop and stole second before Johnson reached base on another error. With Bachkora on third, Johnson stole second and Dixon was hit by the pitch to load the bases. Smith plated one run on a ground out and Cloer hit a line-drive to left center to score two more to put the Lady’Backs up 6-0.
Arkansas went scoreless the next four innings, but played solid defense to pick up its first win at home.
Senior Katy Henry remained undefeated (8-0) and picked up her first shutout of the year from the circle. Pitching a full seven innings, she struck out four and walked just one. Henry had a perfect game through four, before she walked a batter and gave up one of two hits.
For Nothern Colorado, Van Otterloo fell to 1-2 with the loss.
“Katy, Miranda and Layne all did a great job today,” said Pinkerton.
Arkansas is now 1-0 in the Clarion Inn-Arkansas Invitational, which started with the second game of the doubleheader today. The tournament continues tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m. The Lady’Backs take the field at 2:30 p.m. against Alcorn State who is 6-7 coming into the weekend.
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