TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Arkansas Razorbacks fell in a tough battle against No. 1 Alabama on Friday evening with a final score of 10-1. The Hogs move to 10-22 on the season and 1-10 overall in Southeastern Conference play.
Freshman catcher Jayme Gee came up in the second inning with a single off a grounder to center field. Fellow freshman Chloe Oprzedek came up next with a fielder’s choice through the left side. Both Gee and Oprzedek put the ball in play each time they stepped to the plate. Oprzedek grounded out to third in the fourth inning and Gee brought in the only run of the day with a sacrifice fly up the right line.
"Well, I was pretty pleased with the way our team came out and competed," head coach Mike Larabee said. "Alabama is an outstanding team. They’ve got great pitching and great speed. Their lineup is very explosive and our pitchers found out that if you put the ball over the middle of the plate, they’re going to hit it hard."
Alabama opened the second inning with a solo home run by the first baseman over the center field wall. Sophomore pitcher Hope McLemore opened the game in the circle for Arkansas, and allowed just three hits and closed the first inning with a strike out. A double followed up by a two RBI home run capped McLemore’s time in the circle as sophomore Chelsea Cohen came in as the relief in the third inning.
The Razorbacks pulled up on the Crimson tide in the fourth with a single by Jennifer Rambo after Ashley Martindale took the free base on a walk. Both advanced to scoring position with Martindale on third and Rambo on second courtesy of a passed ball. Gee came up with the fly out to right field to plate the Hogs first run of the day by Martindale. Gee collected her fourth RBI of the season and first sacrifice fly of her Razorback career.
"Going into the bottom of the fourth inning, We were really close," Larabee said. "If Chloe beat that ball out at first base, it would have been a 3-2 ball game.
The Crimson Tide collected seven runs in the home half of the fourth inning. The second home run by Alabama’s center fielder sailed just over senior Becca Carden’s glove in center field. Senior Layne McGuirt came in to close the inning for Arkansas and worked through four batters to close the inning for the Razorbacks.
"Alabama has a very explosive team and that is what we want to get to at Arkansas at some point in the near future," Larabee said. "That combination of power and speed makes Alabama a great ball club. I love the way our team came out and competed. No one was afraid and everyone competed well. That is something we have to hang our head on and realize that for three and a half innings, we were right there with them"
Freshman Macy Burr slapped a single to the pitcher in the Razorbacks half of the fifth, but a put out by the third baseman at first closed the inning and sealed the win for the top-ranked Crimson tide 10-1.
"We just have to keep on fighting. Our pitchers really have to step up for us the rest of the weekend," Larabee said. "I think we can score as we showed, and I think we can move the ball on their pitchers, but our pitchers have to step up and change some speeds."
Arkansas continues its series with Alabama on Saturday. The first pitch is set for noon at Rhodes Stadium. The start time was pushed up from the original 1:30 p.m. start because of the rain expected in the area on Saturday.