FAYETTEVILLE – The No. 8 seeded University of Arkansas softball team could not overcome an early deficit Thursday on its way to a 9-0 loss against Alabama, the tournament’s No. 1 seed, in the first round of the 2010 SEC Softball Tournament at Bogle Park.
"I thought we competed very, very well through five innings," Arkansas coach Mike Larabee said. "Hope (McLemore) did her job and kept the game close. We had a couple of opportunities with runners in scoring position and one thing that we always talk about is it is not how many hits you get, but getting the big ones at the right time and we came up a little bit short there.
"I am very proud of the way this team has competed this year, we have had a lot of close ballgames and I think we can learn from the one-run loses we’ve had and bounce back next year and find a way to find some of those close ones."
The loss likely ends the 2010 season for Arkansas, who has an overall record of 28-29. The Razorbacks finished the regular with a 10-15 mark in conference play including a pair of victories over No. 9 Georgia.
Alabama (46-9) advances to the second round where it will play the No. 5 seed Tennessee Lady Volunteers, who defeated Georgia, the No. 4 seed, in Thursday’s third game.
Crimson Tide starting pitcher Kelsie Dunne shutout the Razorbacks on two hits through five innings. The junior struck out eight with four walks.
Alabama took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a two-out, two-run single by designated player Amanda Locke. Right fielder Cassie Reilly-Boccia and first baseman Charlotte Morgan scored on the play after reaching on a walk and a single, respectively.
Arkansas threatened in the top of the fourth inning when it put runners at second and third with one out in the inning before Alabama starting pitcher Kelsi Dunne recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.
The Razorbacks left six runners on base during the game, including at least one in every inning. Center fielder Jessica Bachkora and first baseman Layne McGuirt accounted for the only Arkansas hits during the game.
Alabama exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to close out the game. The big hit of the inning was a grand slam by shortstop Whitney Larsen, her 13th home run of the year. Center fielder Jennifer Fenton got the scoring started with an RBI single to center.
Razorback starter Hope McLemore (14-13) allowed five runs on seven hits through 4-2/3 with five strikeouts and three walks. McGuirt surrendered four runs on one hit while issuing three walks after entering the game with two outs in the fifth inning.
Action at the SEC Tournament continues on Friday at Bogle Park with two semifinal games. The first game will feature No. 2 seed Florida against No. 3 LSU at 2 p.m. Tennessee takes on Alabama in the day’s second semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Both games will air on ESPNU with play-by-play by Beth Mowins and analysis from Jessica Mendoza and Michele Smith.
For more information regarding the 2010 SEC Softball Tournament at Bogle Park, please visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com and its SEC Tournament Central page.