COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of Arkansas softball team earned a split with South Carolina in a pair of games Saturday afternoon at Beckham Field. The Razorbacks (15-26, 1-13 SEC) fought back after dropping the first game by a final of 8-0 in six innings to claim the win in game two, 5-4 in eight innings over the Gamecocks (28-16, 3-11 SEC). Sophomore Shelby Hiers provided the heroics in the top of the eighth inning of game two, as her solo home run provided Arkansas the go-ahead run.
Game one on Saturday was picked up in the bottom of the second as the teams resumed the first game of the series which was started Friday evening before severe weather suspended play.
Arkansas will look to win the series in Sunday’s game three. The series finale will start at 1 p.m. ET and be broadcasted on SEC Network+.
Game One – South Carolina 8, Arkansas 0 (6)
South Carolina plated a run in the bottom of the second on a fielder’s choice Friday evening before play was halted. When play resumed Saturday afternoon, starter Haley Meinen forced a foul out and then struck out the next batter to get out of the second inning.
Offensively, the Razorbacks struggled to get the bats going, managing a pair of hits in the first game. Senior Kasey Fagan smacked a double off the wall in right center in the top half of the fourth, but wound up getting stranded.
After South Carolina scored one in the third, the Gamecocks scored three more in the fourth to grab a 5-0 lead. The game ended in the sixth inning when South Carolina used four hits – all singles – to score three runs and claim an 8-0 victory.
Game Two – Arkansas 5, South Carolina 4 (8)
Arkansas would need a comeback in game two, as South Carolina took an early 3-0 lead in the first inning. After Sydney Wright struck out the first Gamecock batter of the game, South Carolina saw its next four batters reach base and bring three across home plate.
Wright settled in after the first inning. She sat down the Gamecocks in order in the second and did not allow another hit until the bottom of the fifth.
South Carolina threated in the bottom of the fifth, but thanks to a heady play from sophomore Parker Pocklington, the Gamecocks were held off the scoreboard. South Carolina led off the inning with back-to-back hits followed by a sacrifice moving both runners into scoring position before an intentional walk was issued to set up the force play. With the bases loaded and one out, a sharp grounder was fielded by Pocklington at second, who tagged the runner on her way to second and then threw out the batter at first for an inning-ending double play.
Arkansas was held hitless and had just two base runners in the game’s initial five innings. The momentum quickly shifted toward the Razorbacks in the top half of the sixth. With one out, senior Devon Wallace broke up the no-hit bid by singling through the right side. Fagan followed by singling to left and setting up runners at the corners. Junior Stephanie Canfield stepped in and on the third pitch of the at-bat, sent the ball over the wall in right field for a game-tying three-run blast. For Canfield, it was her third home run of the season.
Wright went 1-2-3 down the Gamecocks order in the bottom of the sixth, keeping the momentum with the Razorbacks. In the top of the seventh, senior Sierra Bronkey led off the inning with a single but was cut down at second when the next batter, Rachel Box, grounded into a fielder’s choice. Claire Clark, re-entering for Box, would be the go-ahead run at first base with two outs. Wallace moved Clark up to second as she knocked a base hit through the right side.
With two outs, Fagan delivered when her liner landed over the third baseman in shallow left field and allowed Clark to race around third and come home. Arkansas jumped ahead 4-3 following Fagan’s clutch hit.
Alaynie Page singled for South Carolina with one out in the bottom of the seventh. The next batter, Kristen Struett, launched a double off the wall in left to set up runners at second and third. Struett’s double hit the wall and was just feet short from leaving the park. An RBI groundout to second knotted up the game at 4-4 but Wright forced a fly out to Tori Cooper in right field to push the game into extra innings.
Saturday’s game two would mark Arkansas’ sixth extra innings game of the season. With one out and the bases clear, sophomore Shelby Hiers gave the Razorbacks their go-ahead run, belting a solo home run to center field and giving Arkansas the 5-4 edge.
Wright, pitching her seventh complete game of the season, finished off the win for the Razorbacks by setting South Carolina down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eight. Wright matched her career high in innings pitched (8.0) en route to earning her team-leading 10th win of the season. She scattered seven hits and struck out four in her 18th start of the season.
• Arkansas played its sixth extra-innings game of the season and its second in conference. The Razorbacks improved to 3-3 in extra-inning games.
• The Razorbacks hit multiple home runs for the sixth time this season during the second game on Saturday.
• Sophomore Shelby Hiers is second on the team with four home runs, after her solo homer in the eighth inning of game two gave Arkansas the go-ahead run.
• Junior Stephanie Canfield connected for her third home run of the season and fifth of her career in the sixth inning of game two.
• Sophomore Sydney Wright matched a career-high by pitching the entire 8.0 innings in game two.
• Senior Kasey Fagan leads the team batting .429 in the two games against South Carolina.
• The win snapped a nine-game overall losing streak and earned the Razorbacks their first conference win of the season.