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Late push lifts Arkansas to season-opening win

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Late push lifts Arkansas to season-opening win

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Jessica Bachkora was 3-for-4 at the plate and scored three runs as Arkansas (1-0) rallied for a 5-3 victory over Southern Mississippi in the 2009 season opener at the Southern Miss Invitational. The Razorbacks knocked 10 hits against Southern Miss (0-1) and got a complete-game, seven-strikeout effort from Miranda Dixon in the circle.

Freshman Tori Mort had two hits, including the game-winning RBI in the top of the sixth. She also scored an insurance run for Arkansas on a throwing error by the Golden Eagles. Whitney Cloer also posted two hits for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas trailed by three after two innings, but Dixon steadied and allowed just two hits over the last five innings, including three consecutive 1-2-3 innings to end the game.

“I’m really proud of the way we battled today, especially after falling behind early,” head coach Jamie Pinkerton said. “We had some communication mistakes early that got us in trouble, but it was good to see the ladies keep their cool and come back the way they did.”

Southern Mississippi took the early lead when Stephanie Shiflet scored on an RBI single by Kristin Pilgrim. Shiflet reached on a walk and stole second and third before scoring the game’s first run. The Golden Eagles extended their lead with a two-run second inning.

“Once Miranda got into the flow of the game after the third inning, she really pitched a great ball game,” Pinkerton said. “I needed her to be a leader tonight and I was really pleased with her effort. It says a lot about her maturity level that when things didn’t go well at the plate (0-for-4), she left that in the dugout when it was time to pitch.”

The Razorbacks scored their first run of the season in the top of the third inning when Bachkora crossed the plate on a Kayla Johnson single. Bachkora reached on her second double of the night. Six players in the Arkansas lineup had at least one hit.

In the top of the fifth, Bachkora set the table for Arkansas’ rally with a single to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a throwing error by the Southern Miss third baseman. Mort bunted for a single and pushed Bachkora to third. With runners on the corners, Sandra Smith reached on a fielder’s choice. Mort was thrown out at second, but Bachkora scored to pull the Razorbacks to within one. Smith came around to tie the score on a misplayed ball in left field off the bat of Dixon.

“Anytime you can get 10 hits in the season opener, that’s great,” Pinkerton said. “If Bachkora and Mort can produce all season the way they did today, we’ll win a lot of ball games. We took advantage of our opportunities and our offensive execution on every play was in mid-season form.”

The Razorbacks took the lead in the top of the sixth on an RBI single by Mort that scored Bachkora from second. On the play, the Southern Miss center fielder sailed a throw over the catcher’s head and Mort sped around the bases to score and put Arkansas ahead, 5-3.

Arkansas returns to the field for day two of the Southern Miss Invitational for games against Western Kentucky and the host Golden Eagles. Game times are scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., respectively. For live stats and more information, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.

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Sports Category : Softball