FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas softball team lost the final game of the Southeastern Conference series against No. 4 Florida on Saturday. The Lady Razorbacks (21-9, 1-5 SEC) got the early lead, but were outscored by the Gators (31-2, 7-1 SEC) for the 7-2 final.
“We had Florida on the ropes and didn’t land the knockout blow,” said head coach Jamie Pinkerton. “We had an opportunity to get a three-, four-run lead early and we didn’t do it. We’ve learned how to win against the non-conference teams we were better than, now it’s just a learning process that we’ve got to figure out how to win games against good teams in the conference.”
Junior Whitney Cloer was 2-for-3 with an RBI and extended a five-game hitting streak. Junior Kayla Johnson, sophomore Sandra Smith and senior Samantha Buckner picked up Arkansas’ five hits on the day. Smith also tallied an RBI. The Lady’Backs left eight runners on base, six of which were in the first three innings.
In the bottom of the first, sophomore Jessica Bachkora drew a lead-off walk and got things going quickly for Arkansas. She was sacrificed to second by Johnson and advanced to third on a passed ball. Sophomore Miranda Dixon walked to put runners on first and third with just one out. Smith then hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Bachkora from third and get Arkansas out to a 1-0 lead.
The Lady’Backs loaded the bases with just one out in the third, but Nelson collected a strikeout and the Florida defense was solid, fielding a ground out for the next two outs.
In the top of the fourth, Ali Gardiner led off with a double that bounced off the left-center wall. Mary Ratliff followed with a walk before Megan Bush sacrificed both runners over. Kristin Adkins then walked to load the bases before senior Katy Henry hit Kristine Priebe with the pitch, pushing the go-ahead run across the plate. Kim Waleszonia hit a sacrifice fly to center field and Aja Paculba singled through the right side, scoring two more for 4-1 lead.
In the top of the fifth, a two-run home run by Gardiner and singles by Ratliff and Corrie Brooks increased the Gator’s lead to 6-1.
In the bottom of the inning, Johnson led off with a single to left field. Dixon drew a walk moving Johnson to second before Cloer singled to left field on one out, plating Johnson and making the score 6-2.
Pinch hitter Kelsey Bruder added one more run for the Gators in the seventh with a solo home run to right field.
Stacey Nelson improved to 19-2, throwing four innings and giving up one run on three hits, walking four and striking out four.
Henry earned the loss in the circle, falling to 10-4. She pitched four innings giving up five runs on eight hits, walking two and adding three K’s. Dixon relieved Henry in the fifth and threw two and two thirds innings giving up two runs on three hits, walking one and fanning one. Freshman Layne McGuirt faced two batters in the top of the seventh.
“We dropped the series at home and put ourselves in a position that we’re going to have to pick up wins somewhere on the road,” said Pinkerton.
The Lady’Backs return to action on Tuesday with a midweek SEC doubleheader against Auburn on the road.
For more information about Arkansas softball, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.