In four seasons (2002-05) with the Arkansas softball team, Valanna Lyons created an impressive resume still evident throughout the Razorback pitching record book. Lyons was a key member of the 2002 team that was 39-28-1 and earned an invitation to the NCAA Tournament.
In her first season wearing the Cardinal and White, Lyons established a strong presence in the circle for the Razorbacks with a 7-8 record behind five shutouts and a 1.21 earned-run average (ERA). Lyon’s ERA during her freshman season still ranks as the second-best mark during a single season for an Arkansas pitcher. She also contributed to the third-best single-season team ERA in school history as the 2002 pitching staff posted a 1.57 ERA.
Lyons was clutch during the Razorbacks’ postseason run in 2002. In game two of the regional round, the Murfreesboro, Tenn., native pitched a complete game shutout against Army to lead Arkansas to the 2-0 win. During her career, Lyons totaled 25 complete games and three shutouts, sixth and tied for sixth, respectively, on the Razorbacks’ all-time lists.
She picked up her first Southeastern Conference win in a 4-1 victory at Florida in 2002. During her sophomore season, she continued SEC success with a three-game conference winning streak and an 11-strikeout performance, a career high, against Kentucky. Lyons finished 2003 with a career-best eight victories, 13 complete games and 115 strikeouts.
During her Razorback career, Lyons struck out 272 batters and averaged 5.08 strikeouts per seven innings. Both figures are fifth all-time on the respective school lists. Her longest outings came in 2002 and 2003, a pair of eight-inning efforts against Long Beach State and Jacksonville State, respectively. In those 16 combined innings, Lyons allowed just one earned run and totaled eight strikeouts.
In addition to her ability to start, Lyons proved her worth at the back end of games, too. She earned four saves in relief appearances during her time in Fayetteville. Those four saves represent the sixth-most by an Arkansas pitcher. She also finished her Razorback career with 22 victories and a 3.04 ERA.
All totaled, Lyons’ name still appears on 15 single-season and career lists for Arkansas.
The University of Arkansas’ Athletic Department recognizes its heritage and the countless contributions made by African-American student-athletes in all 19 of its varsity sports. The Razorbacks are proud to celebrate this great tradition and recognize some of the inspiring pioneers, great student-athletes and outstanding role models that have worn a Razorback uniform as a part of Black History Month.