The University of Arkansas softball team opens Southeastern Conference play traveling to Columbia, S.C. , on Friday to face the Gamecocks. The Lady Razorbacks play a doubleheader on Saturday that begins at noon and end the three-game series with a single game at noon on Sunday.
The Lady’Backs went 3-2 at the Wilson-Demarini Invitational hosted by Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. Arkansas defeated San Jose State, Florida International and Creighton. The Lady’Backs took then No. 2 ASU to eight innings before losing and also dropped a game against Drake.
Grand slam home run
Down 5-1 in the sixth inning against ASU, sophomore Sandra Smith launched a grand slam home run to right center to even the score at five apiece and force extra innings. Smith was just the fifth Lady’Back to hit a grand slam, with Kim Eiben being the last in 2001.
Against San Jose State in the fifth, Smith hit a two-run home run to center field. She was followed with a solo shot to left center by junior Whitney Cloer. Senior and career-home-run record holder, Dayna Huckabee made it three in a row with a homer to center. The last time Arkansas hit three home runs in a row was against Louisiana Tech on April 18, 2007.
New home run records set
The Lady’Backs hit 10 home runs this past weekend. Smith’s grand slam was her eighth homer of the year set a new individual season home run record and marked the Lady Razorback’s 29th home run, breaking the season home run record set by last year’s squad.
Rising career home run record
Huckabee reclaimed sole possession of her career home run record, launching three long balls at Arizona State for a career total of 16. Dixon is second with 14, junior Whitney Cloer is fourth with 11, Buckner is fifth with 10 and Smith is seventh with nine.
ESPN.com features Lady’Backs
Arkansas softball was featured in an article on ESPN.com recently. The article titled, “Top teams aren’t rolling through early-season competition,” was written by Graham Hays and talks about Arkansas’ early success and improvements from the 2007 season. The link to the story is: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncaa/columns/story?columnist=hays_graham&id=3274260.
Program’s best start
Arkansas continues the best start in program history at 18-4. The previous best start was in 2002, when the Lady’Backs began the year 8-2.
12-game winning streak
The Lady’Backs were on a program-best 12-game winning streak before their loss to the Sun Devils. 12 consecutive wins matches the most in program history which occured in the 1999 season.
More on Smith
In Tempe, three of Smith’s four hits were home runs and every hit scored at least one run, tallying a team-high 10 RBI for Smith on the weekend.
The Lady’Backs are just three wins away from matching their win total from last season. Arkansas is hitting over .300 compared to a .225 team batting average in 2007. Arkansas needs just 34 runs and 26 RBI to meet last year’s totals as well.
More program bests
The Lady’Backs have a batting average of .304 and a slugging percentage of .503. Both are the highest in program history.
Lady’Backs in the SEC
Arkansas leads the SEC in home runs with 29 and is second in the league in runs scored, hits, slugging percentage and RBI. Smith has a conference-highs eight home runs, while Dixon leads the SEC in slugging percentage (.984), RBI (26) and total bases (61). She is second in batting average (.484), doubles (8), on-base percentage (.584) and home runs (7).
Henry in the circle
Senior Katy Henry endured her first loss of the season against Drake. She leads the team with 64 strikeouts in 67.2 IP. She has thrown seven complete games with one shutout.
Lady’Backs getting votes
While Arkansas received one vote in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll on Feb. 19, the Lady’Backs tallied six votes in the same poll this week and nine votes in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll.
Senior Samantha Buckner is on a 10-game hitting streak while junior Kayla Johnson started the year on a 12-game hitting streak and Cloer had an 11-game streak. All three are the longest of their careers.
Double digit runs, hits and RBI
The Lady’Backs had double-digit runs in five games, hits in seven and RBI in four.
Four homers in a game…three times!
Arkansas hit four home runs against Centenary, breaking the school record for most home runs in a game. The Lady’Backs matched their feat and broke the Lady’Back Yard record with four home runs against Northern Colorado. For a third time this season, Arkansas hit four against Creighton on March 1. The previous record was three home runs set on April 18, 2007 against Louisiana Tech.
The Lady’Backs have one player batting above .400, four above .350, and eight above .250.
Scouting South Carolina
The Gamecocks are 11-8 and in fourth place in the SEC Eastern Division. They have won their last five games and are 5-0 at home. Jill Semento leads the offense with a .438 batting average and two home runs. In the circle, Melissa Hendon has three shutouts and 49 K’s in 48.1 IP. Look for South Carolina’s pitching to be strong, but for Arkansas’ offense to be stronger.
Dixon named SEC Player of the Week
Sophomore Miranda Dixon was named SEC Player of the Week on Feb. 26. The Edmond, Okla., native started five games, hit .733 and went 11-for-15 with seven runs and 10 RBI. She recorded a run and hit in all five games and posted multiple-RBI games in all but one. Dixon had a 1.467 slugging percentage and .765 on-base percentage. She went 3-for-3 with three RBI against Saint Louis. She hit a home run, a triple and a double. She also threw four innings with eight strikeouts, earning her fourth win from the circle. The last Lady’Back to earn SEC Player of the Week honors was Mindy O’Malley on April 25, 2005.
Arkansas defeated Saint Louis by a record-setting 18 runs and 15 RBI. The Lady’Backs also tallied 16 hits, at least one by every starter, in an 18-3, five-inning win. 13 of Arkansas’ runs came in the fourth inning.
Three tournaments, three wins
The first three tournaments of the season, the Lady’Backs came home with three tournament titles. Arkansas won the Century Bank Classic, the Metrodome Classic and the Clarion Inn-Arkansas Invitational.
Sophomore Jessica Bachkora and junior Kayla Johnson were named to the all-tournament team at the Metrodome Classic. Bachkora hit .350 with a .400 slugging percentage and a .409 on-base average. Johnson hit .318 with seven hits, a home run, two RBI and five runs.
The 2008 Lady’Backs
Seniors Samantha Buckner, Katy Henry and Dayna Huckabee lead the 2008 Lady’Backs on the diamond. This season features the return of 15 letterwinners, including nine starters, and introduces nine newcomers.
Returning offensive threat
Bachkora returns as one of the Lady’Backs’ top offensive threats. Bachkora led the Lady’Backs offensively the entire 2007 season and finished the year with a team-high .291 batting average, 30 runs, 58 hits, 10 doubles, five triples, and a .338 on-base percentage.
At the helm
Head coach Jamie Pinkerton enters his fourth season at the helm of Arkansas softball. Last season, Pinkerton saw his team set 14 different game, season and career records. Arkansas’ batting average improved and Pinkerton guided two of his freshmen, Bachkora and Dixon to Southeastern Conference all-freshman honors
How the SEC stacks up
The Lady’Backs were picked to finish 6th in the Western Division of the SEC, while Alabama was predicted to win the 2008 SEC softball title. The poll was released Jan. 31.