FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas softball team rallied with six runs in the fourth and fifth innings but fell short as No. 5 Alabama came away with an 8-6 victory in the Southeastern Conference series finale on Sunday at Bogle Park.
With Arkansas (25-24, 8-14 SEC) in front 6-5 heading into the top of the sixth, Alabama (39-9, 18-4) tallied three runs in the final two innings to regain the lead and pick up their 11th straight win in conference play.
Arkansas junior Kim Jones (1-2) surrendered three runs on two hits while walking two and striking out four in two innings of relief. McGuirt allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings while walking two and striking out two in her 18th start of the season. The Wynne, Ark., native also reentered the game in the seventh and retire the three batters she faced.
Crimson Tide freshman Lauren Sewell (9-1) allowed three runs on two hits with three walks and three strikeouts in three innings. Starter Charlotte Morgan also gave up three runs on six hits while striking out two in four innings of work.
Alabama took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Courtney Conley. First baseman Amanda Locke scored on the play after reaching on a double to lead off the inning.
The Crimson Tide used an RBI single from shortstop Whitney Larsen to increase their lead to 2-0 in the top of the second. Alabama added an RBI double by second baseman Kayla Braud in the third to go up 3-0.
Arkansas cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI groundout by second baseman Courtney Breault. Third baseman Sandra Smith and designated player Miranda Dixon started off the inning with back-to-back singles and advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by McGuirt. Smith came home on the groundout.
Alabama extended its lead to 5-1 in the top of the fifth behind a two-run home run from Larsen, her 10th of the season.
The Razorbacks rallied to score five runs in the home half of the fifth to take a 6-5 lead. Junior Becca Carden collected a pinch-hit single to right field with the bases loaded to send home the first two runs of the inning followed by an RBI fielder’s choice by Smith. Breault then gave Arkansas its first lead of the series with a two-run double to center field.
The Crimson Tide regained the lead 7-6 in the top of the sixth as they plated two runs without the benefit of the hit. With the bases loaded and two outs in the inning, Larsen drew a walk to tie the game followed by first baseman Amanda Locke being hit with a pitch for the fifth time in three-games, to give Alabama a one-run advantage.
Alabama added to its lead in the top of the seventh on a solo home run by Conley, her sixth of the year, making the score 8-6.
Arkansas returns to action Wednesday when it takes a break from conference play and travels to Springfield, Mo., to take on Missouri State. First pitch for the midweek game is scheduled for 5 p.m. The Razorbacks return to SEC play next weekend when they hosts Ole Miss for a three-game weekend series at Bogle Park, in the final home series of the regular season.
Rankings are based on the ESPN/USA Softball and USA Today/NFCA collegiate softball poll released Tuesday.