STARKVILLE, Miss. – Trailing by one after five innings, the No. 24 University of Arkansas softball team scored runs in the sixth and seventh to rally past Mississippi State, 5-4, to even the series. Tori Cooper drove in the game-winning run with an RBI groundout in the final frame and Autumn Storms worked the final 1.1 innings to collect her 14th win in the circle. Arkansas improves to 28-17 overall with a 6-14 mark in SEC play.
A.J. Belans and Loren Krzysko each had two hits Sunday evening including Belans’ seventh home run of the year. Arkansas’ relief trio of Storms, Katie Warrick and Grace Moll held Mississippi State (33-15, 7-10 SEC) scoreless with just five hits over the final 6.0 innings of the game. Sunday’s win was the team’s fifth when trailing or being tied after six innings.
Final: Arkansas 5, Mississippi State 4 | Box Score
With the score tied at 4-all in the top of the seventh inning, Autumn Russell legged out an infield single to give the Razorbacks runners on first and second with one out. Krzysko dropped her second single of day in shallow right field to load the bases for Cooper. The Nederland, Texas, native came through with a ground ball to shortstop that allowed Parker Pocklington to score the go-ahead run from third.
Storms retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh inning to secure the come-from-behind win, the final out coming on a diving catch on a popup across the middle by Belans. Storms entered the game with runners on second and third and two down in the sixth. She walked the first hitter she faced but responded by inducing a ground ball to Russell at third base for the final out. Russell recorded seven assists on the night.
The Razorbacks opened the scoring with a three-run first inning, highlighted by the three-run blast to center field off Belans’ bat. Krzysko got things started with a one-out single down the right-field line and Cooper walked to bring Belans to the plate. The Hollywood, Florida, native took the 2-1 offering from Mississippi State starter Holly Ward and knocked it over the fence and off the camera lift in center field. It was the team’s 45th home run of the season. Arkansas is now 13-4 when scoring in the first inning.
The home team responded immediately with three runs in the bottom of the first, and took a 4-3 lead on a solo shot by Sarai Nui to lead off the second inning. Warrick came in to relief starter Caroline Hedgcock and logged 3.0 scoreless innings to keep the Razorbacks’ deficit at one run. Moll struck out two hitters in her 1.2 innings of work before giving away to Storms. Pinch runner Betina Beringhele scored the game-tying run on a sacrifice fly by Madison Yannetti in the sixth.
Monday’s series finale is scheduled for a 6 p.m. (CT) first pitch at Nusz Park in Starkville. In addition to the online stream at the WatchESPN app, the game will be televised on the SEC Network with Mark Neely and Jenny Dalton-Hill handling play-by-play and color commentary duties, respectively.
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