FAYETTEVILLE-Junior catcher Shana Easley recorded four hits in the Southeastern Conference opener against South Carolina (17-9, 2-0) Tuesday, March 8, as the University of Arkansas softball team (10-13, 0-2) fell to the Gamecocks 6-1 and 3-0 at Lady’Back Yard.
In the first game of the doubleheader, South Carolina didn’t waste anytime scoring in the first SEC game for both teams. The Gamecocks took a 2-0 lead in the first inning when sophomore catcher McKenna Hughes hit a two-run home run.
The Lady Razorbacks answered in the bottom of the second inning as senior infielder Ashley Carter hit a leadoff single into shallow center field. Easley followed with a right field double to put runners in scoring position.
Junior designated player Barbara-Jean Southmayd scored Carter on a ground ball to second base to cut into the South Carolina lead 2-1.
South Carolina added another run on two hits in the fourth inning to lead 3-1. The Gamecocks put three security runs on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh inning.
Junior Valanna Lyons took the loss (6-7) and recorded five strikeouts without giving up a walk in six and one-third innings.
Arkansas softball coach Jamie Pinkerton said the team needs to learn to adapt at the plate to compete in the conference.
“We need to get better at making adjustments,” Pinkerton said. “I thought in the first game Valanna only made one mistake and we played well defensively. You have to give South Carolina credit, we were on the ropes and they finished the game.”
In the second game, South Carolina took a 1-0 lead when freshman shortstop Lisa Longo hit a shot over the left center field wall in the second inning.
The Gamecocks scored another run in the top of the third inning when senior first baseman Meghan Cornett hit a two-out home run in nearly the same spot as Longo did an inning earlier.
Easley lead the Lady’Backs with two hits in both of the conference games. She has three doubles this season and 20 hits.
Pinkerton said he was happy with Easley’s offensive production as it has steadily improved as the season has progressed.
“Shana’s really been working hard in the (batting) cage,” Pinkerton said. “She has gotten better as the year has gone on.”
Freshman pitcher Katy Henry started the game and threw three and two-third innings giving up five hits while striking out four in the loss (3-4).
Freshman pitcher Kelly Ninemire relieved Henry in the top of the fourth inning and had four strikeouts in three and one-third innings of work.
The Arkansas-South Carolina series concludes Wednesday, March 9, at 2 p.m. at Lady’Back Yard.
For more information on Arkansas softball, log on to www.ladybacks.com.