This week: The Lady’Backs open the 2006 season in Miami, Fla., at the Diamond Fun and Sun Classic, Feb. 10-12. On Friday, Arkansas meets No. 10/11 Georgia at 9:00 a.m. and North Carolina at 1:00 p.m. The Lady’Backs play No. 24/19 Iowa at 11:00 a.m. Saturday followed with a game against tournament host, Florida International at 3:00 p.m. Sunday’s championship play is determined from the previous two days outcomes.
Season recap: Arkansas returns 11 players from the 2005 squad that was 19-43. Seniors Shana Easley, Mindy O’Malley, Blaire Perry and Barbara-Jean Southmayd lead the team that welcomes 10 newcomers.
Versus Georgia: The Bulldogs lead the all-time series 9-14 after sweeping the Lady’Backs last year in Fayetteville. In 2005, No. 13 Georgia defeated Arkansas 1-0, 10-0 in five innings and 10-4.
Versus North Carolina: This is the first meeting between the Tar Hills and Lady’Backs. In 2005, UNC qualified for the NCAA Regional after finishing 38-29. The Tar Hills received votes in both of the preseason polls.
Versus Iowa: Saturday’s opener marks the first game between Iowa and Arkansas in school history. Last season, the Hawkeyes finished 50-14 and third in the Big 10 conference.
Versus Florida International: The Lady’Backs have a 2-0 advance over the Panthers. Arkansas’ last meeting was a 5-4 win in 2002.
Run away: Junior outfield Rachel LeMaster was the Lady’Back offensive leader in 2005 with a team-high .363 batting average and 73 hits, while utilizing her speed to record 27 stolen bases. As a result, LeMaster was selected to the All-SEC second team.
On the ball: Senior outfielder Mindy O’Malley returns for her final season as a Lady’Back following a productive junior year. O’Malley was third on the team with a .268 batting average. Not only was O’Malley quickness evident in center field but she was also effective around the base paths. Leading the team with 32 runs scored, O’Malley ranked second in stolen bases after completing 13-of-14 attempts.
Toppled: In the 2005 season, junior pitcher Sarah Topham recorded the best-team ERA at 2.56. Topham was in the circle as both a starter and reliever and she posted a team-high three saves.
Out of here: Last season, senior Barbara-Jean Southmayd paced the Lady’Backs with a team-high four home runs. Southmayd, an infielder and designated player, led the team in walks.
Dirty Harry: In her first season at Arkansas, sophomore pitcher Katy Henry was a force in the circle. Henry had a team-high 124 strikeouts in 149.2 innings and 40 appearances. She entered the record books last year with a 15-strikeout performance against Louisiana-Monroe, which ties Heather Schlichtman for the second-best showing in Lady’Back history.
Hey batter: Junior infielder Kallie Foglesong was tough at the plate in 2005. Foglesong led the team in three offensive categories. With 31 RBIs, Foglesong also finished the year with 12 doubles while taking 13 bases after being hit by a pitch.