FAYETTEVILLE – The Arkansas Razorbacks softball team split the doubleheader with South Carolina on Saturday afternoon with a 7-3 loss in the first game and a 2-1 win over the Gamecocks in the second game of the day at Bogle Park.
Game one of the day went seven innings with the Razorbacks picking up a sixth-inning three-run rally before falling the Gamecocks 7-3. The second of the double bill was a battle though nine innings of softball when a walk-off sacrifice fly by sophomore Courtney Breault and stellar pitching by senior Layne McGuirt sealed the Razorbacks first home win of the season.
"For the first time in a while, I felt that we had the will to win and pull that out. I’m proud of the team. It’s our first chance to win a series and hopefully we can build on this," head coach Mike Larabee said.
The Razorbacks started off a bit slow in the first game of the day. The first hit for Arkansas came in the home half of the third with a single to third by sophomore Linnea Ketcher. She went 4-for-7 on the day and helped the Razorbacks to plate the winning run in game two of the double bill.
It took until the home half of the sixth inning for the Razorbacks to make a rally attempt in game one. A single by freshman Chloe Oprzedek propelled the Razorbacks to earn three more hits in the inning including a double by freshman Jennifer Rambo to center field to bring in senior Becca Carden. An RBI single to right field by fellow freshman Amanda Geile drove in Rambo to put the Hogs on the board.
Jayme Gee drilled a single up the left line to move pinch runner Ashley Martindale across the plate, closing the gap to a 7-3 ball game.
The momentum didn’t stop there for the Razorbacks as Geile picked up her second RBI of the day off a single to center to bring in Oprzedek after she reached on a base hit of her own in the home half of the third inning of game two.
"It took us a while to get started in the first game, but when we did, we played well," Larabee said. "I really want to highlight Layne McGuirt. I don’t care what level of the game you are at, it is all about pitching. You cannot be successful in this game without a good pitching staff."
McGuirt came in to close out the first game for the Razorbacks with 2.2 innings pitched. She closed the fifth inning with a strikeout and opened the sixth in the same fashion. After a single inning starts for Kim Jones, McGuirt came back into the circle for Arkansas to pitch eight complete innings. Although tallying just three strikeouts in game two, McGuirt held the Gamecocks to just one unearned run and seven hits.
"Layne is not necessarily a strikeout pitcher, but the best pitch in fastpitch softball is the changeup. When she has that going for her, it’s just a show. She doesn’t even have to throw another pitch for a strike. She just did a great job for us today."
The Razorbacks tallied 11 hits in game two and 16 total for the day. Ketcher went 3-for-4 in the later game of the day when she beat out the play at first off a bunt in the fourth inning and came back with two more singles for the Razorbacks.
Ketcher earned her fourth hit of the day in the bottom of the ninth followed by an intentional walk of Carden and a single to center by Rambo. Breault stepped to the plate and hit a sacrifice fly to the left side off a 3-2 count to bring in Ketcher and clinch the win for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas moves to 11-33 on the season and 2-19 in conference play. UA meets the Gamecocks for the final game of the series on Sunday. The rubber match will be televised on ESPNU with the first pitch set for 2:04 p.m. at Bogle Park.