COLUMBUS, Ga. – The Arkansas softball team extended its winning streak to five games with a pair of victories on Friday at the NFCA Lead-Off Classic at the South Commons Softball Complex.
Arkansas started the day with a 2-0 victory over Nebraska and defeated Central Florida 6-0 to end the first day of the weekend tournament.
"Today was a really great day," Arkansas coach Mike Larabee said. "We were really hitting on all cylinders. Obviously when we get two shutouts that is fantastic. Hope threw a great game the first game and then we backed that up with Layne McGuirt pitching a shutout in the second game. We played outstanding defense today, not making an error in either game; and we had great timely hitting. We had great enthusiasm from our starters and our bench. I thought we played at a really high level and we made some plays today that we weren’t making two weeks ago."
The Razorbacks (7-4) took an early 2-0 lead over Central Florida (4-7) in the bottom of the first inning. Senior Sandra Smith drove in two runs with a single deep to right field. Jessica Bachkora and Brittany Griffiths scored after reaching on a walk and an infield single, respectively.
A four-run second inning extended the Arkansas lead to 6-0. An RBI single off the bat of Bachkora got the scoring started while designated player Miranda Dixon’s two-run home run, her fourth of the season, to left field was the big blow of the inning.
Razorback starter Layne McGuirt (3-0) tossed the first shutout of her career in her fourth start of the season. The junior gave up four hits, walked two and struck out five.
Central Florida starting pitcher Diana Rojas (2-1) allowed six runs (two earned) on five hits while issuing three walks in two innings of work. Senior Kristina DeMello pitched the final five innings of the game, limiting the Razorbacks to only two hits while striking out three and walking one.
Senior catcher Amanda Caldwell recorded her first career hit in a pinch-hit plate appearance in the bottom of the sixth.
In the first game of the day, solo home runs off the bats of Arkansas infielders Griffiths and Courtney Breault led the Razorbacks to a 1-0 victory over Nebraska.
Griffiths launched her second home run of the season over the wall in right field with two outs in the top of the sixth while Breault’s seventh-inning homer was her first of the season.
Arkansas starting pitcher Hope McLemore (4-1) worked a complete-game shutout for the second time this season. The freshman surrender only three hits while walking two and striking out five. McLemore retired 12 straight batters including 13 of the last 15 batters to close out the game. She lowered her season ERA to 0.90 and batting average against to .194.
The Razorbacks picked up their sixth win of the season despite mustering only two hits and striking out a season-high 13 times. Nebraska starter Ashley Hagemann (2-3) allowed two runs on two hits while walking one in seven innings. Hagemann allowed only two Arkansas runners to reach base until the final two frames.
Nebraska threatened early but came away without a run. The Huskers loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first inning before McLemore got designated player Alex Hupp to line into an unassisted double play by the first baseman Smith.
With the two long balls, Arkansas has hit 16 home runs in the first 10 games of the season. The Razorbacks came into action today ranked third in the conference in home runs.
The Razorbacks return to action Saturday with a pair of games beginning at 11 a.m. against No. 11/8 Georgia Tech followed by a 1:30 p.m. against Iowa.