FAYETTEVILLE – University of Arkansas freshman Miranda Dixon hit three home runs and was 7-for-7, helping the Lady Razorbacks (9-14) to two victories Sunday at the Holiday Inn Express-Arkansas Invitational at Lady’Back Yard.
The Lady Razorbacks defeated Northern Iowa (8-6) 6-5 and Louisiana-Monroe (13-11) 8-5, winning the tournament with a 4-2 record.
“Today was one of those days we showed what we can do, offensively and defensively,” said head coach Jamie Pinkerton. “We played well and just have to be patient because this is a young team and in time is going to be a very good team.”
Dixon put Arkansas up 6-5 against the Panthers in game one with a two-run shot to center field on two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. In the second game she hit a lead-off home run in the fourth inning to bring the Lady’Backs within one run of ULM, and homered again in the seventh to put the Lady’Backs up 8-4. Dixon had seven hits, seven RBIs and four runs on the day.
“Dixon has been pretty consistent for us in the middle of the lineup,” said head coach Jamie Pinkerton. “She’s starting to relax and got into a groove and saw the ball well today.”
In game one Northern Iowa took the 1-0 lead with a one-out home run by Ashley Lepley in the top of the first inning.
Junior Dayna Huckabee then sparked a two-run second inning for Arkansas leading off with a single to center field. Dixon followed with a double that bounced off the left-field fence scoring Huckabee from first base. Sophomore Whitney Cloer traded places with Dixon with an RBI double of her own to right center, putting the Lady’Backs up 2-1.
Senior Rachel LeMaster and Huckabee scored in the third inning giving Arkansas a 4-1 lead. LeMaster singled to center field and stole second base before advancing to third after the Panther right fielder caught Johnson’s fly ball in foul territory. Huckabee reached base on a walk putting runners on first and third before Dixon drove in her second run of the game with a single through the 5-6 hole. Cloer followed with an almost identical single scoring Huckabee from second base.
Two more homers by Northern Iowa’s Jen Larsen and Kelly Papesh in the fourth inning narrowed the Arkansas lead 4-3.
A fourth Panther home run, this time a lead-off blast to center field, tied the score in the top of the fifth 4-4. A Lady’Back error put the number nine batter on base, trailed by an RBI double from lead-off batter Mandy Kumamoto, giving Northern Iowa the 5-4 advantage.
Dixon’s home run in the bottom of the fifth lifted the Lady’Backs to the 6-5 victory.
Freshman Teighynne Hulsey earned her first collegiate win on the mound after relieving starter Katy Henry. Hulsey went three innings allowing no runs and just three hits.
In game two, back-to-back sacrifice flies by Johnson and Huckabee in the top of the first inning scored freshman Jessica Bachkora and LeMaster for an early 2-0 Arkansas lead.
Louisiana-Monroe answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning behind a two RBI single to left center by Heather Williams and a sacrifice fly to left field by Lindsey Taylor.
The Warhawks were up by two runs, 4-2, after the third inning. Jamie Liles doubled to left center and touched home plate on a single up the middle by Williams.
A second Dixon home run in the top of the fourth inning put the Lady’Backs within one run of ULM before freshman Jess Reed doubled to deep left field scoring junior Samantha Buckner to tie the score 4-4.
A double down the right field line by Huckabee and a single up the middle by Dixon gave Arkansas the 5-4 lead in the fifth.
Bachkora led off the seventh with a double to center field and back-to-back home runs by Huckabee and Dixon gave Arkansas the 8-4 lead and some insurance runs going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Jamie Liles closed the gap to 8-5 with a home run in the Warhawks’ last at bat.
Henry earned her seventh win of the season, pitching 4.2 innings, striking out five and allowing only one hit.
The Lady’Backs return to action Tuesday at Lady’Back Yard facing North Texas for a single game beginning at 3 p.m.
For more information about Arkansas softball, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.