MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Razorback softball team rebounded from a late-inning loss Friday to pick up two wins on day two of the Metrodome Classic. Arkansas (5-2) beat host Minnesota, 3-2, in its first game of the day and downed Western Illinois, 5-3, in the day’s finale. “I think it was great day defensively and we were mistake free in the field which we needed today to win,” head coach Jamie Pinkerton said. “We had the pitching we needed today out of (Kelsie) Vallies and (Kim) Jones and Miranda (Dixon) came in to close both ball games. It was good to see both starters pitch well today to get Miranda some help. Offensively, we weren’t as crisp as we had been in the first five games but we got some timely hitting when we needed it.”
In game one, Arkansas jumped out to an early lead with a three-run first. Whitney Cloer had a double down the left field line to score Jessica Bachkora from second. Bachkora led off the inning with a walk and stole second to get in scoring position. Cloer came around to score on a single by Kayla Johnson. Sandra Smith posted the final RBI of the inning with a double to left center to bring in Johnson for a 3-0 lead. It was the first hit of the season for Smith.
“We set the tone early against a very good pitcher in (Brianna) Hassett,” Pinkerton said. “She is one of the better pitchers we’ve faced this far. I would have liked to see us make more adjustments at the plate and hit the ball, but we got the hits we needed early to go along with a solid outing from Vallies.”
Minnesota loaded the bases in the top of the second with one out, but the Razorbacks got out of the inning without allowing run. Arkansas recorded an out at home on a force play and Colleen Conway was called out when a fair ball hit her and kicked foul on her way to first base.
The Gophers got on the board in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Aubrey Davis that scored Dannie Skrove. Minnesota had runners on second and third with one out, but Kelsie Vallies limited the damage by striking out the final two batters of the inning. Earning her second win of the season, the freshman pitcher finished the game with four strikeouts but gave up six walks.
After two Vallies walks to start the fifth, Miranda Dixon came on in relief. With two outs, Skrove hit a double to score Malisa Barnes to cut the Razorback lead to one run. Dixon struck out Brianna Sudenga to end the Gopher threat.
Minnesota had two on with one out in the bottom of the seventh but Dixon got Natalie Neal to pop out and then struck out Skrove to end the game and earn the save.
Against Western Illinois, the Razorbacks were held off the scoreboard until the fifth inning when Bachkora lined a two-run shot over the left field fence. Jocelyne Moncrief scored ahead of Bachkora and Arkansas held the 2-0 lead. It was the second home run of the season for Bachkora, a career high for the junior center fielder. She finished the game 2-for-4.
Their next time up, the Westerwinds opened the inning with two singles but starter Kim Jones worked out of trouble getting two ground ball outs and a soft liner to Amie Hubbard at third. In her first win of the season, Jones worked six innings allowing two runs on five hits with four strikeouts.
The Razorbacks extended their lead to 5-0 with three runs in the top of the sixth. They took advantage of two Western Illinois errors to start the inning. Pinch runner Becca Carden came around to score on a single by Leslie Dixon. Smith scored the second run of the inning when she scored from third on a wild pitch by Kamren Ferguson. Brittany Griffiths picked up her second hit of the game, a double to right center, to score Dixon.
“I was pleased with the way we adjusted against Ferguson in game two,” Pinkerton said. “She is a completely different pitcher than what we saw in the first game and she did a good job of mixing speeds and moving the ball around against us. We still have some things to clean up. We’re giving away too many free passes, but our pitching was the key for us today though.”
Western Illinois responded to cut into Arkansas’ lead with two runs in its half of the sixth. Julie DePolo and Jamie Goss crossed the plate for the Westerwinds after leading off the inning with a walk and double, respectively. Erin Schlotfeldt and Ashley Campbell picked up the RBI for WIU.
In the bottom of the seventh, Western Illinois picked up a run and had the go-ahead run at the plate, but Dixon induced a ground ball handled by Johnson to pick up her second save of the day and end the game.
The Razorbacks conclude play at the Metrodome Classic with a pair of Sunday games against Northern Iowa and Wisconsin-Green Bay at 10 a.m. and noon, respectively. Log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com for live stats and continued coverage.
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