LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Arkansas softball team dropped a pair of Southeastern Conference games against Kentucky on Saturday at the UK Softball Complex.
The Razorbacks’ offense struggled to find its rhythm all day, producing only two hits in a 5-0 loss in Game One and two more hits in the second game of the doubleheader, a 4-2 defeat.
Solo home runs by senior first baseman Sandra Smith and freshman second baseman Courtney Breault in the second game accounted for Arkansas’ only runs of the day.
Arkansas (17-10, 2-2 SEC) now has a record of 2-2 on a five-game road trip to open the conference portion of the schedule. Kentucky (19-9, 4-3), which has won five of its last seven games, will be looking to finish the series sweep on Sunday.
In the first game, Kentucky took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI sacrifice bunt by catcher Megan Yocke, followed by a solo home run from third baseman Brittany Cervantes. Shortstop Molly Johnson scored on the sacrifice.
The Wildcats added a pair of runs in the bottom of the third to make it 4-0. Kentucky pitcher Rachel Riley’s two-run single to right field scored Johnson and second baseman Natalie Smith, who reached base on back-to-back singles.
A solo home run from Kentucky right fielder Destinee Mordeccai in the home half of the fourth inning put the Wildcats in front 5-0.
Arkansas starting pitcher Hope McLemore (9-4) allowed five runs on six hits in four innings. The freshman walked one and struck out one. Senior Miranda Dixon did not allow a hit or a run with two strikeouts in the final two innings.
Kentucky starter Rachel Riley (6-2) shut out the Razorbacks on two hits while walking two and striking out six.
Arkansas redshirt sophomore Emily Jones, who made her first career start at first base, collected her first career hit in the top of the fourth inning.
In the second game, Kentucky starting pitcher Chanda Bell (11-5) allowed only three Arkansas hitters to reach base in her 13th complete game of the season. The sophomore allowed two home runs and issued one walk between striking out 10 Arkansas hitters.
As it did in the first game, Kentucky went ahead in the bottom of the first. Yocke drove in Smith with a single up the middle for a 1-0 lead. Smith made it 2-0 in the third inning on an RBI single through the right side.
Arkansas scored its first run of the day in the top of the fourth to cut the Kentucky lead to 2-1 on Smith’s sixth home run of the season.
Kentucky added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth on back-to-back RBI hits by catcher Brittany Cervantes and Yocke.
The Razorbacks cut the Kentucky lead to 4-2 on Breault’s home run in the seventh, her third of the year.
Razorbacks starter Layne McGuirt (5-3) surrendered three earned runs and scattered eight hits over five innings. The junior walked one and struck out nine. Dixon worked a perfect bottom of the sixth in relief.
The two teams will wrap up their three-game series at noon CDT on Sunday.