The University of Arkansas softball team travels to Auburn for a midweek Southeastern Conference doubleheader against the Tigers at Jane B. Moore Field beginning at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The Lady Razorbacks then return home for a three-game series at Lady’Back Yard against Tennessee on Friday and Saturday.
The Lady’Backs took a doubleheader from Indiana State midweek before dropping an SEC series to the fourth-ranked Florida Gators. The Lady’Backs had 12 runs, 12 hits and 12 RBI, hitting three home runs, in a five-inning win against the Sycamores. In game two, two runs in the first and two in the sixth sealed the deal for the doubleheader sweep. Arkansas held Florida scoreless through six innings before losing on an unearned run in game one. In game two, the Lady’Backs three errors led to a 3-1 defeat, and on Saturday, Arkansas fell to the Gators 7-2.
Junior Whitney Cloer led the Lady’Backs this week, hitting .429 with six hits, one home run, two runs scored and five RBI. Dayna Huckabee (.333), Hillary Freeman (.375) and Kayla Johnson (.400) all batted over .300. Huckabee added seven RBI, a triple and a home run.
Bachkora leads in conference play
Sophomore Jessica Bachkora leads the Lady’Backs in conference play with a .375 batting average. She has six hits, a double, five runs, a .438 slugging percentage and a .474 on-base percentage.
New home run records set
Sophomore Sandra Smith hit her ninth homer of the year against South Carolina to set the individual season home run record. The Lady’Backs hit three home runs against Indiana State, increasing its season-record count to 33 which breaks the previous record of 28 set by last year’s squad.
Six RBI by Huckabee
Huckabee tallied six RBI in the first game against Indiana State to tie the game record for most RBI.
The Lady’Backs won their 21st game of the year against Indiana State to match their win total from the 2007 season when they finished 21-43. Arkansas is hitting .282 compared to a .225 team batting average in 2007. Arkansas needs just eight runs and two RBI to meet last year’s totals as well.
Smith leads Lady’Backs to first SEC win
Smith hit a three-run home run to lead the Lady’Backs to a 3-2 victory against South Carolina. Down 1-0 in the top of the fourth inning, with two on and one out, Smith launched her ninth home run of the season, a three-run shot to left field, to put the Lady’Backs up 3-1.
Dixon’s first SEC win of the year
Sophomore Miranda Dixon earned her first SEC win of the year in the same contest, throwing a complete game and fanning a career-high 10 batters.
Lady’Backs in the SEC
Arkansas leads the SEC in home runs with 33, is second in total bases (361) and slugging percentage (.459) and is third in the league in runs scored (168) and RBI (148). Smith leads the SEC with nine home runs, Dixon and senior Samantha Buckner are third with seven. Smith is tied for first in RBI with 29 RBI and Dixon is second with 27. Johnson (29) is second in runs. Dixon still has conference highs in slugging percentage (.831) and total bases (64). She is second in the SEC with nine doubles.
More program bests
The Lady’Backs have a batting average of .282 and a slugging percentage of .459. Both are the highest in program history.
On route to beat season RBI record
Smith (29) and Dixon (27) and on their way to beating the season RBI record currently held by Jen Cirigliano. Cirigliano hit 36 RBI in 2000.
Cloer is on a five-game hitting streak. Buckner ended an 11-game hitting streak in game two against South Carolina. Johnson started the year on a 12-game hitting streak while Cloer had an 11-game hitting streak. The streaks are the longest of their careers.
Rising career home run record
Huckabee holds the career home run record with 17 homers. Dixon is second with 14, Cloer is third with 12, Buckner is fifth with 11 and Smith is sixth with 10.
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.
Arkansas with votes
Arkansas received one vote in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Poll on Feb. 19. The next two weeks the Lady’Backs tallied several votes in that poll and in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 Poll.
12-game winning streak
The Lady’Backs were on a program-best 12-game winning streak before their loss to Arizona State. 12 consecutive wins matches the most in program history which happend during the 1999 season.
Auburn (25-4) tries to continue its five game win streak after taking three games from Mississippi to improve their conference record to 5-1. Second in the SEC Western Division, Auburn brings in a .252 team batting average and a 1.03 earned run average. Auburn is led by Taryn Gray who hits .380 with 35 hits and Anna Thompson who has eight wins and 125 K’s in 79.1 innings pitched. Arkansas and Auburn are pretty even in the series record with the Lady’Backs enjoying a one-game advantage, 19-18. However, the Lady’Backs are 2-12 against Auburn in the last three years. Auburn received votes towards the top 25 poll.
Last year vs. the Tigers
The Tigers won both games in a midweek doubleheader at Lady’Back Yard last season. A three-run home run by Hollie Currie put Auburn up in game one. In the second game, Arkansas took the early lead and out hit Auburn eight to four, but five errors and a three-run fourth inning put the Tigers on top 3-2.
Double digit runs, hits and RBI
The Lady’Backs had double-digit runs in six games, hits in eight and RBI in five.
Buckner excels as lead-off batter
Buckner is batting .480 as a lead-off batter. She has led off 25 times and has 12 hits, four home runs, four RBI and a .960 slugging percentage.
With runners on base, Dixon hits
Dixon has a .523 batting average with runners on base. She tallied 23 hits, eight doubles, three home runs and 23 RBI. With runners in scoring position, Dixon is even better with a .548 average and a 1.032 slugging percentage.
Robison is Arkansas’ best pinch hitter
Sophomore Brittany Robison has had eight at bats as a pinch hitter and has gotten two hits for a .250 average. She is the only Lady’Back to collect a hit in a pinch hitting situation. Robison (1), Teighynne Hulsey (2) and Jessica Waddle (1) have drawn walks.
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. Versus The previous record was three home runs last set on April 18, 2007 against Louisiana Tech.
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.
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. Thirteen of Arkansas’ runs came in the fourth inning.
Dixon named SEC Player of the Week
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.
Three tournaments, three wins
The Lady’Backs competed in three tournaments their frist and 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.
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.