COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of Arkansas softball team will begin Southeastern Conference play Wednesday with a 3 p.m. CDT doubleheader against South Carolina at Beckham Field.The Razorbacks (15-8, 0-0 SEC) open the SEC schedule on a six-game winning streak after sweeping the Arkansas Invitational and taking the team championship with a 4-0 record last weekend, recording wins over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, Southeast Missouri State and Louisiana Tech. Arkansas won in dramatic fashion as a three-run home run by Arkansas center fielder Jessica Bachkora in the bottom of the ninth led the Razorbacks to a 5-3 victory over Louisiana Tech in the championship game of the tournament Sunday afternoon at Bogle Park. Bachkora finished Sunday 5-for-7 with three home runs, two doubles, five RBIs and four runs. She paced the team on the weekend with a .545 average (6-for-11), seven RBIs and a 1.636 slugging percentage.Arkansas hit .257 as a team through the two-day tournament. Along with Bachkora, first baseman Stephanie Brewer also hit over .400, going 5-for-12 (.417) with a double and four RBIs. The Razorbacks posted a 1.17 team ERA, and the hurlers struck out 30 while issuing only nine walks. South Carolina (9-14, 0-5 SEC) began conference play last week with a pair of games at Mississippi and a three-game series against LSU. Junior utility player Laura Mendes leads the Gamecocks this season with a .370 average, 27 hits and 15 RBIs. Sophomore infielder Evan Childs is tied with Mendes for the team lead in doubles with seven and is second on the team in hits (17) and RBIs (11).In the circle, the Gamecocks have three hurlers who all have made at least seven starts this season: Audrey Broyles, Kelsey Goodwin and Ashley Chastain. Broyles (3-3) leads with team with a 0.99 ERA and 45 strikeouts, while Chastain has a team-high four wins this season. South Carolina has a 2.77 team ERA and has held opponents to a .260 batting average.Arkansas got off to a 5-0 start in SEC play last season, including a two-game sweep of South Carolina at Bogle Park. The Razorbacks picked up 4-0 and 7-0 wins against the Gamecocks behind strong pitching from Kim Jones and Miranda Dixon.
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