FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 24/21 Kentucky Wildcats swept the Razorbacks in two back-to-back games on Wednesday afternoon at Bogle Park. A 4-0 loss in game one and an 11 inning, 7-2 loss in game two moves the Razorbacks to 0-5 in Southeastern Conference play.
The Razorbacks drop to 9-17 overall on the season and pick up a 0-5 start to conference play. Arkansas started game one with zero hits allowed by pitcher Kim Jones until the Wildcats half of the fourth inning. Arkansas picked up two hits in the first game with a single in to the left side by sophomore Linnea Ketcher in the third inning and a hard hit single up the left line in the Razorbacks half of the sixth.
"We always talk about just always competing," head coach Mike Larabee said. "Bring a great attitude to the ball park, bring great effort and have the will to win and I thought we had that tonight."
The Razorbacks let four go in the sixth go give Kentucky a 4-0 lead going into the final inning. A double up the left side brought around the first run of the inning and a two-run homer by the third baseman followed to set the score at 3-0. An error by junior Brittany Griffiths and a single by Kentucky’s first baseman brought in the fourth and final run of the night.
The Razorbacks attempted a rally back in the sixth, but Rambo was the only hit of the inning with a base hit up the left line.
"It sounds like a broken record, but we had a lot of opportunities tonight," Larabee said. "We just couldn’t get that big hit and Kentucky got the big hits when they needed to. I thought Kim Jones did a great job in the first game and Hope threw her heart out in game two."
Arkansas came back in game two with three quick outs from pitcher Hope McLemore. With the Hogs at the plate, freshman Ashley Martindale laid down a bunt between the pitcher and the plate for a single. Senior Becca Carden came up with a shot out to right field to bring around Martindale. An error by the right fielder advanced Martindale home to give the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead after the first inning. Martindale had two runs on the game with a fielder’s choice in the sixth as well.
"We started making some better plays defensively which was a good spark. I was happy with our defense, but I am just frustrated right now. I think everybody is frustrated," Larabee said.
Arkansas kept the lead until the sixth when Kentucky’s first baseman drilled a solo home run over the left side, followed by two stolen bases to bring in a game-tying run. Both teams were scoreless in the seventh to bring on extra innings.
The Razorbacks and Kentucky battled in extra innings with a single by Stephanie Brewer in the ninth. Catcher Jayme Gee reached on an error by the pitcher followed by a walk for Martindale to lead the bases. Freshman Chloe Oprzedek hit a short slap up to the pitcher to get Martindale at home and close the inning still tied at two apiece.
Kentucky opened the 11th inning with a solo home run by the catcher followed by a bunt. A single to third brought around the game-changing run. With runners on second and third, UK’s pitcher, Rachael Riley hit a three-run homer over the left field fence to cap the game at 7-2 in 11 innings for Kentucky.
"Losing can become a habit and we just need to find a way to get back to our winning ways. Overall, I was happy because our kids competed. We have a philosophy that ‘if you want to win forever, always compete’ and our kids competed today," Larabee said.
The Razorbacks now hit the road for a three-game series at Mississippi State march 18-20 followed by a mid-week doubleheader against Ole Miss on March 23.