FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas softball team scored 11 runs in the fifth inning to overcome a late six-run deficit on its way to an 18-13 Southeastern Conference victory over Mississippi State on Sunday at Bogle Park.
The Razorbacks earned the series sweep of the Bulldogs after tying the school record for runs scored in a game with 18. The run total matches the runs scored against St. Louis in February of 2008 at Lady’Back Yard.
Down 13-7 heading into the home half of the fifth, the Razorback offense would collect six hits and five walks to push 11 runs across the board with two outs. After closing the deficit to 13-10 on a three-run home run from designated player Miranda Dixon, Arkansas junior Leslie Dixon tied the game with a three-run double to left-center field. Left fielder Becca Carden then put the Razorbacks in front 15-13 with a two-run single up the middle. RBI hits from third baseman Sandra Smith and second baseman Courtney Breault accounted for the remainder of the scoring.
Arkansas (21-11, 6-2 SEC) was led by Dixon who went 2-for-3 on the day with a home runs and five RBIs. Razorback center fielder Jessica Bachkora was a perfect 6-for-6 in plate appearances, finishing the day 3-for-3 with two singles, a home run, three walks and five runs scored.
Mississippi State (19-16, 2-7 SEC) took control of the game early with a big inning of its own, a seven-run third, but were unable to keep up as only one Bulldog runner reached base after the fifth.
Arkansas pitcher Layne McGuirt (6-4) entered the game with two outs in the top of the third and limited Mississippi State to two runs on four hits the rest of the way. The junior struck out five and did not issue a walk.
The Razorbacks sent eight batters to the plate in the bottom of the first and took an early 2-0 behind a bases-loaded walk and an RBI-single by first baseman Emily Jones.
Mississippi State jumped in front 4-2 with four runs in the second inning. An RBI-single by catcher Chelsea Bramlett and a bases-loaded double by right-fielder Brittany Bell accounted for the scoring.
The Razorbacks tied the game at 4-4 in the second on a solo home run by Bachkora, her 12th of the season, and an RBI single by Miranda Dixon.
The Bulldogs scored seven runs in the top of the third to take an 11-4 lead. Back-to-back two-RBI doubles by left fielder Kaili Smith and third baseman Jessie Bailey were the key hits of the innings for Mississippi State.
With three runs in the bottom of the third, Arkansas cut the MSU lead to 11-7. A sacrifice fly by Carden deep to the wall in left field drove home the first run before Smith drove in two more with a double to left-center field.
A pair of runs in the top of the fifth extended Mississippi State’s lead to 13-7. Second baseman Ali Bainbridge drove in her first run of the game while Bailey picked up her third RBI of the contest. Arkansas pitcher Hope McLemore allowed four runs on three hits while walking three and striking out one in her 14th start of the season. Freshman Chelsea Cohen and junior Kim Jones also appeared in the circle for the Razorbacks.
Mississippi State reliever Stephanie Becker (3-4) took the loss after facing four batters in the fifth and surrendering three runs on two hits. Kylie Vry, Lindsey Dunlap and Misty Flesher also saw action for the Bulldogs.
Arkansas returns to action Wednesday when it travels to Tulsa, Okla., for a doubleheader against Tulsa. First pitch for the doubleheader is scheduled for 4 p.m.