FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas softball team fell in a pair of Southeastern Conference games against No. 5 Alabama on Saturday at Bogle Park.
The Razorbacks were limited to only one run on six hits by Alabama starting pitcher Charlotte Morgan in a 5-1 loss in Game One and couldn’t recover from an early 8-1 deficit in the second game of the doubleheader, a 16-8 defeat in six innings, despite designated player Miranda Dixon going 3-for-3 with five RBIs and a home run.
Arkansas (25-23, 8-13 SEC) looks to return to the win column in SEC play when the two teams return to action Sunday in the finale of the three-game series, set to begin at 12:30 p.m.
Alabama (38-9, 17-4) extends its winning streak to 14 games, including 10 straight in conference play.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Alabama took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a solo home run to left field by right-fielder Cassie Reilly-Boccia, her eighth of the season. The Crimson Tide tallied a run in the second to go ahead 2-0 as first baseman Amanda Locke led off the inning with her 11th home run of the season, a solo shot to center field.
Alabama added two runs in the top of the fifth when after loading the bases with no outs on three straight singles, Morgan and Whitney Larsen drove in runs on back-to-back sacrifice flies to make the score 4-0.
In the top of the sixth, Alabama used its third sacrifice fly of the game, this time by center fielder Keima Davis, to take a 5-0 lead.
The Razorbacks got on the scoreboard in the home half of the sixth inning when pinch hitter Becca Carden drove in center fielder Jessica Bachkora with an infield single to make the score 5-1. Bachkora led off the inning with a triple to center field.
Alabama added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when pinch runner Cat Dozier stole home on a double steal, making the final score 6-1.
Arkansas junior Layne McGuirt (8-9) allowed six runs on eight hits in six innings while walking four and striking out four. Fellow junior Kim Jones worked a scoreless inning in relief.
Morgan (5-2) limited the Razorbacks to one run on six hits in her fourth complete game of the season. The senior struck out four and did not issue a walk.
In the second game, Alabama again took an early lead with a four-run top of the first inning. A two-run home run by Morgan, her 15th of the season, got the scoring started before Locke capped the scoring with a two-run shot of her own, her 12th of the season and second of the day. The Crimson Tide added a run in the top of the second on a fielding error by the centerfielder to make the score 5-0. With a three-run top of the third, Alabama extended its lead to 8-0. A two-run triple by Braud followed by a sacrifice fly by Reilly-Boccia accounted for all the scoring.
Arkansas pushed a run across the board to cut the lead to 8-1 in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly by McGuirt.
After the Crimson Tide pushed the score to 12-1 with four runs in the top of the fourth, the Razorbacks matched that with a four-run inning of their own. Third baseman Sandra Smith got the scoring stated with a fielder’s choice that drove in shortstop Brittany Griffiths. Dixon then belted her 12th home run of the season, a three-run shot, over the wall in left-center field.
The two teams traded solo home runs in the fifth to make the score 13-6, the Razorbacks getting theirs from catcher Amanda Caldwell. The homer was the first of her career.
Alabama tacked on three more runs in the top of the sixth on a sacrifice fly and shortstop Whitney Larsen’s second home run of the game to take a 16-6 lead.
Arkansas scratched out two more runs in the home half of the sixth on a two-run double by Dixon to run the final score to 16-8.
Razorback starter Chelsea Cohen (2-2) allowed four runs on four hits in one-third of an inning. Jones worked 2-2/3 innings in relief, surrendering four runs (three earned) on four hits while striking out four and walking one. Dixon also saw action from the bullpen, working the final three innings while giving up eight runs (six earned) on seven hits with a walk and a strikeout.
Alabama sophomore Amanda Locke (5-2) picked up the win after allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits in 2-2/3 innings. Freshman Lauren Sewell gave up one earned run in 3-1/3 innings while striking out three and walking five.
Rankings are based on the ESPN/USA Softball and USA Today/NFCA collegiate softball poll released Tuesday.