FAYETTEVILLE – A grand-slam home run by senior Samantha Buckner lifted the University of Arkansas softball team to a 5-2 come-from-behind victory against the eighth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols on Friday afternoon at Lady’Back Yard. The Lady Razorbacks fell in the night cap 11-2. Arkansas is now 22-12 overall and 2-8 in the Southeastern Conference, while Tennessee is 27-5 and 5-4 in league play.
“Tennessee is a great program,” said head coach Jamie Pinkerton. “In the first game we were able to scatter the hits and get out of jams and Katie did a fantastic job. We’re capable of hitting the ball and coming from behind and that’s just what we did. This is a sign that our program is going in the right direction.”
Down 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth, a single by sophomore Miranda Dixon, a walk by sophomore Sandra Smith and a single by junior Whitney Cloer loaded the bases with one out. Senior Dayna Huckabee was hit by the pitch in the next at bat which allowed Dixon to cross the plate and bring the Lady’Backs within one. Megan Rhodes entered the game in relief for starting pitcher Ashton Ward with the bases still loaded and Buckner at the plate. On a 0-2 count, Buckner launched a game-winning, grand-slam home run to left center. Buckner’s homer was her ninth this season, tying her with Smith for the individual season home run record.
Tennessee got on the scoreboard first in game one after three scoreless innings with runners in scoring position for both teams every inning.
In the fourth, back-to-back singles by Anita Manuma and Kenora Posey put runners on first and second for lead-off batter Lillian Hammond. Hammond got her first hit of the day, a double to left center that plated Manuma and gave the Lady Vols a 1-0 lead.
Tonya Callahan put UT up 2-0 in the fifth with a solo home run to center field.
Katy Henry (11-5) earned her first SEC win throwing a complete game. She gave up two runs on nine hits and struck out eight.
Ashton Ward (15-3) lost just her third game of the year pitching five and one-third innings allowing four runs on seven hits with four K’s. In relief, Rhodes threw two-thirds of an inning giving up one run, one hit and fanning one.
Cloer was 3-for-3 with one run scored and sophomore Jessica Bachkora was 2-for-3.
Arkansas’ win over Tennessee is the highest ranked opponent it has defeated at Lady’Back Yard and marks the first time Arkansas downed the Lady Vols since April 3, 2004 when UT was ranked 12th. The Lady’Backs also scored more runs then they had in the last nine contests against Tennessee.
In the top of the first in game two, Tiffany Huff doubled to center field and advanced to third on an outfield error. Callahan followed with a bunt and Huff slid home on the squeeze play to put Tennessee up 1-0.
In the bottom of the inning, Bachkora led off with a single up the middle and was followed by a single to left field from junior Kayla Johnson. With two outs, Cloer singled to center field plating Bachkora from second to even the score at 1-1.
In the third, Callahan walked with one out and moved to second on a single through the left side by Jennifer Lapicki. Erinn Webb followed with a two-out RBI single through the right side that scored Callahan and gave the Lady Vols a 2-1 lead.
In the sixth inning, Callahan launched her second homer of the day, a grand-slam home run to center field. Shannon Doepking followed with a solo homer to right center increasing Tennessee’s lead to 7-1.
Tennessee added four runs in the seventh. Kelly Grieve scored when Callahan was hit by the pitch with the bases loaded and Doepking singled to knock in Chandra Mogan. Huff walked and scored on a walk by Lapicki and Callahan crossed the plate on another walk for an 11-1 advantage.
Sophomore Brittany Robison hit the second home run of her career in the bottom of the seventh increasing the Lady’Backs season count to a record 38.
After giving up a game-winning, grand slam in game one, Rhodes (12-2) came back with a complete game win. She allowed two runs on five hits and added seven K’s.
Dixon fell to 8-5 with the loss in four innings of work. Bachkora went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
“The score’s not indicative to how close the game really was,” said Pinkerton. “We’ve got to take the positive from today and come back and try to win the series tomorrow.”
Arkansas finishes out the three-game set with Tennessee tomorrow at 11 a.m. at Lady’Back Yard.
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