FAYETTEVILLE – Senior outfielder Mindy O’Malley paced the University of Arkansas softball team, Saturday, April 1, but No. 5 Tennessee (32-4, 7-4) was too much for the Lady Razorbacks (16-20, 5-9) as they fell to the Lady Vols, 5-0 and 8-1. O’Malley was 2-for-3 at the plate in the second game.
The series wraps up Sunday at noon, which is an hour earlier than the original start time due to Tennessee travel plans.
In game one, Tennessee took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when the Lady’Back defense faltered and committed two errors. Then in the fifth, the Lady Vols scored four runs on four hits to increase their lead, 5-0.
Arkansas softball coach Jamie Pinkerton said when the Lady’Backs have an upset within their grasp it’s essential they find a way to win those games.
“We were close,” he said. “We need to find some way to get over the edge. We had an opportunity to win and didn’t do it.”
Senior Blaire Perry (5-6) threw four and one-third innings before junior Kayce Odle replaced her. Odle didn’t allow a run in relief.
Tennessee junior Monica Abbott (22-3) shut down the Lady’Backs as she did not give up a hit in a complete game performance.
Pinkerton said he knew that Abbott, a two-time all-America pitcher, would be a force in the circle and the Lady’Backs would be challenged.
“That’s the best pitcher in the country, period,” he said. “She’s simply the best. That’s the best you’re going to see in the conference.”
In the second game, the Lady Vols scored first when they took advantage of a Lady’Back error to lead, 1-0, in the second inning.
The Lady’Backs tied the game, 1-1, when freshman catcher Whitney Cloer recorded a RBI-single that scored O’Malley from second. With two-outs, O’Malley reached on an error and junior outfielder Rachel LeMaster was intentionally walked before Abbott replaced sophomore Megan Rhodes.
Pinkerton said he is excited about the future impact Cloer could have on the Lady’Back squad and was pleased with her timely hitting.
“Whitney is a bright, young player on this team,” he said. “That was a clutch hit for us.”
With the game tied at 1-1 in the top of the seventh inning, Tennessee scored seven runs on four hits and an Arkansas error.
Sophomore Katy Henry (9-8) took the loss while tallying six strikeouts and only one earned run but she gave up seven hits.
For more information on Arkansas softball, log on to LADYBACKS.COM.