DENTON, Texas — Arkansas hit five total home runs and got solid pitching in a pair of wins over Missouri State and Buffalo on Saturday at the North Texas/Sleep Inn Invitational. The Razorbacks defeated Missouri state, 6-5, in their first contest of the day, and won, 6-0, over Buffalo in game two.
“I love the way we started the day, jumping out to a sizable lead in that first game,” Arkansas head coach Mike Larabee said. “We had a few opportunities to slam the door, but weren’t really ever able to. I like the way the kids held on. Between games I told them I wanted to see some consistency. We’ve kind of been up and down to start the season, so I wanted to see them come back and play well in game two and they certainly did that.”
The Arkansas offense scored 12 combined runs in the day’s two contests. They scored eight of those runs on five home runs, three of which came off the bat of senior center fielder Jessica Bachkora. The Razorback pitching staff combined to throw 14 innings, allowing five runs on eleven hits. Hope McLemore highlighted the day and continued her winning ways, tossing a complete-game shutout while allowing only two hits in the win over Buffalo.
“I thought Hope pitched very well again today,” said Larabee. The players seem to really respond and play well behind her. She had great command for most of the day and I thought the defense played really well behind her.”
In game one, Bachkora led off the Razorback half of the first inning with the home run, for the second time in as many games. Missouri State’s Ashley Knehans hit a solo shot of her own in the top of the second to tie the game, 1-1. Prior to giving up that home run, Arkansas starter Layne Mcguirt retired the first five batters of the contest.
Arkansas (5-4) would add five more runs in the bottom of the second inning. Bachkora hit her second home run of the day over the left field bleachers with Tori Mort and Becca Carden on base. After Brittany Griffiths grounded out, seniors Sandra Smith and Miranda Dixon hit back-to-back solo home runs to give Arkansas the lead, 6-1, heading into the third. Missouri State would score one run in the third, two in the fourth and another in the sixth to pull within one heading into the seventh.
McLemore came on in relief of Kim Jones who replaced McGuirt. With the potential tying run aboard and two outs in the seventh, McLemore struck out the only batter she faced and received the save, the second of her career.
McGuirt got the win to ascend to 2-0 on the year. The starter threw four innings, allowed four runs on seven hits and struck out five. Jones threw two and two-thirds innings allowing one earned run on four hits.
The loss gave Missouri State (0-6) its third one-run loss of the tournament.
Both offenses started slow in game two, as the two teams were scoreless through three innings. No runs crossed the plate until the top of the fourth, when Arkansas freshman shortstop Courtney Breault and Carden hit back-to-back RBI doubles to give the Razorbacks the advantage, 2-0, heading to the bottom of the inning.
Arkansas wouldn’t score again until the seventh, when Bachkora hit her third home run of the day, and fourth in three games. It was a two-run shot that brought Jessica Waddle home to score. The Hogs would add two more runs on RBI base hits by Dixon and Breault.
McLemore retired 12 of the last 14 batters she face for a complete-game shutout victory. Buffalo (1-2) had only one runner advance past second base.
Arkansas will finish the weekend Sunday at 11:30 a.m. when they play Drake at Lovelace Stadium on the campus of UNT.