FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas softball team moved into the Top 25 of the ESPN/USA Softball poll on Tuesday. The No. 25 Razorbacks are the first team in program history to garner a Top-25 ranking.
Arkansas (30-17, 8-10) has defeated eight ranked teams this season to boost themselves into the Top 25. The Razorbacks swept No. 22 Georgia for the first time in school history to start the success against ranked teams. This was the first time the Razorbacks had swept a ranked team since 2000. The team followed the sweep with a game two win versus No. 13 LSU on April 6. The Hogs collected wins number five and six against ranked teams at No. 8 Missouri on April 13 and 14. Both wins against No. 8 Missouri were in extra-innings and these were the first back-to-back wins for the Hogs in extra-innings since 2004. The Razorbacks picked up two wins versus No. 17 Kentucky last weekend to push their season total to eight.
The team has also earned numerous accomplishments this season. The 2013 squad was the first team in program history to start 5-0. They were the first team in program history to sweep Georgia in a three-game series. On February 22 against ULM, Nicole Schroeder and Chloe Oprzedek became the first pair of Razorbacks to hit grand slams in a game. The Razorbacks have hit six grand slams this season, a program record.
The Hogs have been led this season by their sophomore-standout, Devon Wallace. She has earned an NCAA-leading 64 walks this season and is three walks away from breaking the SEC single-season record of 66. Earlier this season Wallace broke the career record of 103 walks, previously held by Sandra Smith, who walked 103 times in her four seasons. The Double Oak, Texas native is second in the nation with a .631 on base percentage. She is a Top 25 finalist for the USA Softball Player of the Year award this season after being named the SEC Freshman of the Year in 2012. Wallace and freshman Stephanie Canfield are on pace to finish with the top two, single-season, batting averages in program history. They are hitting .393 and .380, respectively.
Arkansas has also benefited from its outstanding pitching staff this year. Sophomore Kimmy Beasley became the first Arkansas starter to throw a no-hitter since 2006 when she blanked Savannah State on March 20. Hope McLemore powered Arkansas into the Top 25 last weekend with 6.1 innings of no-hit softball against No. 17 Kentucky on April 20. Chelsea Cohen came into the game to retire the final to batters and cap a combined no-hitter. Cohen was also a leader against No. 22 Georgia earlier this season. She started all three games against the Bulldogs and gave up four runs in 16 innings pitched.
The Razorbacks travel to No. 2 Tennessee this week and will take on their seventh ranked team in as many weeks. Game one is slated for 6 p.m. on Friday and will be televised by Fox Sports.