COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of Arkansas softball team dropped its first Southeastern Conference series with a 4-0 loss against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon at Beckham Field.
The Lady Razorbacks fell to 19-6 overall and 1-2 in the SEC, while the Gamecocks improved to 13-9 and 2-1 in league play.
“I thought the young ladies played hard,” said head coach Jamie Pinkerton. “We just dug ourselves an early hole and we can’t do that on the road. I didn’t want the whole team to go into a slump at the same time and that’s kind of what happened this weekend. I think we just have to get back to doing what we did well – attacking the ball and being aggressive at the plate.”
Sophomore Jessica Bachkora was the bright spot on the day for the Lady’Backs going 2-for-3. Senior Samantha Buckner also hit a double to left center which put one of two Arkansas runners in scoring position.
“This weekend was a real positive for her (Bachkora),” Pinkerton said.
Bachkora led off the game driving the first pitch through the right side, but three consecutive putouts by USC kept Arkansas scoreless in the top of the first.
South Carolina jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the inning as lead-off batter Ashton Payne was hit by the pitch and Laura Mendes singled up the middle before Jessica Josker walked on one out to load the bases. USC scored its first run when Becky Martinez was hit by the pitch, allowing Payne to cross the plate. Starting pitcher Kim Jones was relieved by senior Katy Henry after facing just five batters. With the bases still loaded on two outs, Lindsay Walker smacked a double to left center that scored two more and put the Gamecocks up 3-0.
Walker plated another run in the bottom of the third with a single up the middle. Semento scored from third after reaching base on a lead-off single.
With one out in the fifth, Buckner doubled to left center putting Arkansas’ first runner in scoring position, but back-to-back strikeouts from South Carolina pitcher Melissa Hendon ended any chances of Arkansas scoring a run.
The only other scoring hope the Lady’Backs had was junior Kayla Johnson in the top of the sixth. Johnson reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a passed ball with just one out, but a relentless Hendon struck out two more of her season-high 10 to end the inning.
Jones picked up the loss evening her record to 2-2. Henry threw five and two-thirds innings giving up one run on six hits and striking out four.
Hendon (5-4) earned her fourth shutout and fifth win of the year. She threw a complete game giving up just three hits, walking one and striking out 10.
The Lady’Backs return to action at home on Wednesday with a doubleheader against Indiana State beginning at 3 p.m.
“I feel good about where we’re at,” said Pinkerton. “Hopefully we can we can make some adjustments getting back home Wednesday, and get prepared for Florida.”
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