HATTIESBURG, Miss. – The Arkansas softball team begins its 2009 season Feb. 6-8 at the Southern Miss Invitational in Hattiesburg, Miss. In their season opener, the Razorbacks will play host Southern Mississippi with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m. All games will be played at Oak Grove High School as the Golden Eagles’ home facility is being renovated.
“It’s time to play,” head coach Jamie Pinkerton says. “The players have seen a lot of each other (in scrimmages). The pitchers are starting to know the hitters and the hitters are starting to learn the pitchers, so it’s going to be nice to get out Friday against Southern Miss and play someone different.”
The Razorbacks begin the season against fairly unfamiliar opponents. Against the three other teams–Samford, host Southern Mississippi, Western Kentucky–participating at the Southern Miss Invitational, the Razorbacks have only played six total games. Arkansas and Southern Mississippi have the most history with five previous meetings. The Hogs lead, 3-2, but the two teams haven’t faced one another since the 2003 season when they split a doubleheader in Fayetteville. Arkansas has never lost (2-0) in Hattiesburg, Miss. The Golden Eagles finished last season with a 25-30 record.
“I think our strength comes in our number of upperclassmen,” says Pinkerton. “This is the first year where we’ve had so many upperclassmen and they have good leadership skills. The classes are as balanced as they’ve been since we’ve been here as a staff.
“This team has shown an innate ability to show maturity and I want to see if that holds up under pressure of a game. There has been a chemistry established and not to make light of the (weather) situation here in Northwest Arkansas, but this past week was good for us from a team-bonding standpoint. We had half the team with power, half the team without and you look up to see them fixing meals for each other, spending time together and taking care of each other.”
The Razorbacks are 4-8 all-time in season openers, including an eight-inning victory over UAB, 6-5, in last year’s first game. Arkansas will also look to mirror last season’s strong start in which the team completed play at the Century Bank Classic in Texarkana, Ark., with a 5-1 record.
On the second day of the season-opening event, Arkansas will play Western Kentucky at 11:30 a.m. and end the day with another contest against Southern Miss (4:30 p.m.). The Razorbacks will close play Sunday with a 12:30 p.m. matchup with Samford.
Western Kentucky (28-30 last season) won the only previous matchup with Arkansas, a 1-0 decision during the 2007 season in Tampa, Fla. Sunday’s game will be the first meeting between Arkansas and Samford. The Bulldogs were 25-29 last season.
“We had 22 practices leading up to the season, but unfortunately, only six of those have been outdoors,” says the Razorbacks’ head coach. “But with Bogle Park and the facilities we have, it hasn’t hit us as hard as it has in the past, so this team is prepared and we’re ready to go.”
For live stats and continued coverage of the season opener, visit ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: 2009 notes.pdf