AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Arkansas softball team dropped a pair of games Saturday including a near come-from-behind effort against host Texas. Earlier in the day, the Razorbacks lost to North Dakota State to split a pair of games with the Bison during the season-opening weekend. Arkansas (1-3) closes out the Texas Classic Sunday with a 9 a.m. matchup with North Carolina.
Game 1 – North Dakota State 7, Arkansas 2
Facing an early five-run hole, the Razorbacks got on the board with a run in the bottom of the second inning. With runners on first and second, Shelby Hiers drew a one-out walk to load the bases for Parker Pocklington. The junior infielder was hit by a pitch to tally an RBI and plate Arkansas’ first tally of the day.
The bases were loaded once again for the Razorbacks in the bottom of the fifth inning. Stephanie Canfield picked up the team’s first hit with a one-out single to left field to give Arkansas runners on first and second. Autumn Russell followed with a walk to load the bases, and Nicole Schroeder came through with a ground ball to the left side of the infield to register an RBI on the fielder’s choice.
North Dakota State (1-2) struck first with a four-run first inning with the biggest blow coming on a two-run single by Jackie Stifter. In the longest outing of her career, senior Claire Clark pitched 4.1 innings of relief and held the Bison to three runs—one unearned—on three hits and three walks. Freshman starter Peyton Carter re-entered the circle in the top of the sixth inning and retired six of the final seven hitters she faced.
Game 2 – Texas 6, Arkansas 5
With its offense held to two early singles, Arkansas turned to the long ball in the top of the seventh to take its first lead of the night. After a lead-off single by Russell, junior infielder Nicole Schroeder delivered with a two-run blast to deep left field to tie the score at 2-2. It was her first home run of the season and 14th of her career. Designated player Ashley Diaz put the Razorbacks on top with a solo shot in the next at-bat, her first collegiate home run.
Texas (4-0) tied the score with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to push the game into extra innings, a first for Arkansas this season. With the international tiebreak rule in effect, each team started its half of the eighth with a runner on second base. The Razorbacks took advantage with two bases-loaded walks to Russell and Diaz to take a 5-3 advantage into the home half of the eighth. However, Texas used a rally of its own to score three times including a pair of two-out tallies on consecutive base hits to end the game.
The early stages of the game were highlighted by strong defense by both teams including back-to-back plays in the bottom of the first, beginning with a diving catch by Loren Krzysko by the line in left field. On the next play, a line drive to third base deflected off Russell’s glove right to Madison Yannetti who was running into position to back up the play.
Texas got on the board with a two-out RBI triple by Stephanie Ceo. The home team added another two-out tally in the fifth inning. With runners on second and third, a single got over Russell’s head to score one run but again, Yannetti was in position to prevent the ball from getting to the outfield and fired a strike to the plate to cut down the would-be score.
The Razorbacks had a runner in scoring position in the top of the fourth with a lead-off single by Canfield who moved over to second on a bunt by Russell. With two down, Diaz lined a shot to left field but Texas’ Stephanie Wong stretched above her head to end the inning and potential threat.
Following the season-opening Texas Classic, the Razorbacks play in the first weekend of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic (Feb. 19-21) in Palm Springs, Calif. Arkansas’ home opener is Feb. 27-28 when it hosts Drake and UMKC for the Razorback Invitational at Bogle Park.
Season tickets are now on sale for $45 through the Razorback Ticket Center. For more information about purchasing season tickets, call 800-982-HOGS (4647) or 479-575-5151, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Razorback Ticket Center located next to Baum Stadium. For more information about Arkansas softball, follow @RazorbackSB on Twitter.