FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas softball team (7-1) ended their fall season with a sweep of Northeastern Oklahoma A&M by scores of 7-3 and 13-0. Tuesday at Bogle Park.
Senior Chelsea Cohen was the star of Tuesday’s doubleheader, pitching a perfect game in game two versus the Lady Norse. The Sparks, Nev., native was able to strikeout nine batters in seven innings on the way to perfection. She was all smiles after the game.
“I didn’t expect this to happen at all,” Cohen said. “My defense was unbelievable behind me. I give all of the credit to my defense.”
The defense was key to Cohen retiring 21 consecutive batters and there were plenty of plays that saved the game for Cohen. She cruised through the first two innings, striking out two and only letting one ball get out of the infield. A defining play in the game happened in the third inning as a line drive was hit down the first base line by NEO’s Maddie Stevenson. Arkansas first baseman Andrea Sullivan, in her first start of the year, was able to get her body in front of the ball and knock it into the ground in front of second baseman Chloe Oprzedek. Oprzedek was able to gather the ball and flip it to Sullivan for the out.
“It was shot right to her,” Cohen said. “She was able to knock it into Chloe and she flipped it right to her for a great out.”
Another key play in the perfect game came in the next inning as catcher Jayme Gee made an incredible diving catch in front of home plate. If Gee did not come up with the ball NEO shortstop and speedster Lexie LaValley would have reached on an infield single.
“Jayme made the play with that catch in front of home,” Cohen said. “I never could have done it without her and the defense.”
After the diving catch in the fourth Cohen was able to strikeout five of the next nine batters including a strikeout to end the game. Head coach Mike Larabee was excited for his senior pitcher.
“It was really exciting,” Larabee said. “I am really happy for her. She has come so far since her freshman and sophomore year. Coach (Coy) Adkins has done a great job with her. She has a lot of confidence right now. What a great way to finish off the fall.”
Cohen has now thrown 14 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. She has appeared twice this fall and has earned the win in both contests. She has not walked a batter this fall while striking out 15. Cohen talked about the future of Razorback softball after the fall season.
“Our work ethic is high,” Cohen said. “As a team we are much closer after this fall. We are working hard and I am so excited to see what’s to come.”
The team had an outstanding day at the plate to back up Cohen’s perfect game. Game two’s scoring began in the second inning when senior Andrea Sullivan lined a two-run double into the right field wall. Sullivan, a native of Hampton, Ga. added another two runs as she homered to centerfield in the fourth inning. She made the best of her first start of the fall season, going 2-3 with four RBI, a walk and a run scored.
After the homerun the Razorbacks earned two more runs in the fourth inning. They came after a Devon Wallace double, a Stephanie Canfield RBI single and then Navarro followed with an RBI double of her own. This was Navarro’s second double of the game and third of the day.
Gee added a run after double in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 7-0 and in the sixth the Razorbacks exploded for six more runs. Claire Clark, in her first start this fall, shot a two run single into leftfield scoring Bass and Navarro. Oprzedek would add two RBI of her own as she hit a single up the middle to score Gee and Nicole Schroder. The score would stand at 13-0 after six innings of play and that was more than enough for Cohen. Arkansas also had a good day at the plate in game one. They started in the first inning as the Hogs loaded the bases for Jennifer Rambo. She was able to produce a sacrifice fly and score Devon Wallace. This was Rambo’s seventh RBI of the fall season. Wallace went 2-2 in game one with a walk.
After a Lady Norse run in the top of the second, Arkansas scored four in the bottom half of the inning on a Stephanie Canfield triple, followed by a Navarro double and a Jennifer Rambo single. This was Canfield’s second triple of the fall season.
The runs would keep piling up, this time off the bats of freshman Claire Clark and sophomore Sierra Bronkey. The two hit back-to-back solo homeruns to give the Razorbacks a 7-1 lead after three innings of play.
After three innings starter Kelly Young was replaced by senior captain Hope McLemore. Young ended game one allowing one run on two hits. She struck out eight batters in her three innings of work. McLemore worked two scoreless innings, striking out one and did not allow a hit. The top of the sixth inning saw redshirt freshman Victoria Brown step into the circle. She allowed two runs on three hits in her two innings of work. Brown ended the game and the Razorbacks took game one 7-3.
This concluded the fall season for the Razorbacks and they finished with a record of 7-1. They will begin regular season play on February 8 when they travel to St. George, Utah.
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