MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. –The University of Arkansas softball team defeated Iowa 5-3 and Minnesota 2-1 in games five and six of the University of Minnesota Metrodome Classic. Junior Whitney Cloer hit a triple and sophomore Miranda Dixon hit a double in the fifth inning against Iowa to score three RBIs in the fourth inning. In game six versus Minnesota, Sandra Smith hit a home run in the first inning with Kayla Johnson on base to seal the Lady Razorbacks’ fifth win of the weekend and improve their season record to 10-2.
The Iowa Hawkeyes from the Big Ten Conference began their season at the Metrodome Classic and won all three games coming into today. Their defense was the key to their wins only allowing two hits, three hits, and one hit in their previous three games.
Freshman Kim Jones only walked two batters and led the team to an important victory against Iowa in only the second game she pitched of her collegiate career.
The Lady’Backs got their first run early when in the first inning Smith hit a double into deep left field which rolled into the back corner allowing Miranda Dixon to make it home from second base. But Iowa answered right back in the bottom of the inning with freshman Chelsey Carmody on third and sophomore Taylor Leichsenring on second, senior Summer Downs bunted to bring Carmody home for the tying RBI. With one out, the Lady’Backs needed a great defensive play to prevent Iowa from taking the lead. That play would be by senior Samantha Buckner as she tagged out Iowa’s Erin Riemersma on a bunt and stared Leichsenring down to make sure she couldn’t come home. Jones then got the key strikeout to close the inning with runners left on second and third.
The Lady’backs would secure the win in the fifth inning when junior Kayla Johnson hit a ball to deep right field allowing sophomore Jessica Bachkora who was on second to come home and take the lead 2-1. Miranda Dixon would then get on base after Johnson when junior Whitney Cloer crushed one to right field hitting the back fence in the air for a triple bringing Dixon and Johnson home for RBIs and extending the lead to 4-1. Finally, senior Dayna Huckabee hit one to deep center field bouncing off the fence for a double which brought Cloer home to score the fifth run. Iowa would answer back in the bottom of the fifth with a double by junior Erin Riersma which allowed RBIs by Carmody and Downs, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Lady’Back defense didn’t allow any more hits for the final two innings.
In the final game of the tournament, Arkansas faced the tournament host Golden Gophers of Minnesota who came into today’s game 5-5 and have gone 2-2 this weekend. Katy Henry pitched the second game allowing only five hits and walking only one batter improving her to 7-0 on the season.
For the third straight game, the Lady’Backs scored runs in the first inning as Smith hit a home run over the center field fence with Johnson on base to take the early lead 2-0.
In the bottom of the fourth Arkansas would be in scoring position as Cloer slammed one off the back left field fence for a double. Buckner would then get on base as she was hit in the leg by a pitch and both runners would advance to second and third on a wild pitch, but unfortunately the Gopher defense wouldn’t allow the Lady’Backs to score any more runs that inning.
In the sixth inning Minnesota scored when freshman Malisa Barnes hit one into deep right field allowing junior Colleen Conway to score an RBI and senior Sila Fernandez to advance to third. But a pop fly to Hillary Freeman who caught it and hustled into the infield prevented Fernandez from tagging up and tying the game. A grounder fielded by Henry would close the sixth with the Lady’Backs still on top.
The Arkansas defense wouldn’t allow Minnesota a chance in the seventh as Smith caught a pop fly and Henry struck two batters out in three pitches each to win the game.
“These wins are huge because Big Ten teams are the quality of teams that we will play in the SEC,” said head coach Jamie Pinkerton. “When you have pitching and timely hitting and don’t make any mistakes defensively then you can win ball games and I think we improved on that [this weekend].”
The Lady’Backs softball team returns home next weekend for the Clarion Inn Lady’Back Invitational next weekend where will they host Northern Colorado, Alcorn State, Creighton, and St. Louis. There next game is Thursday, February 22nd at 3:00 p.m. versus Northern Colorado at Lady’Back Yard. For more information about Arkansas softball, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM