FAYETTEVILLE — The No. 22 University of Arkansas softball team will host Auburn in a weekend series. Game one is scheduled for Friday at 6 p.m.
The Razorbacks (31-17, 9-10) have won five of their last six games and will look to continue the trend Friday at 6 p.m. The first 250 fans admitted to the Friday game will receive a free t-shirt. The series continues with senior day on Saturday at 1 p.m. Arkansas will recognize four seniors this season for their numerous contributions to the program. The seniors being recognized are Chelsea Cohen, Hope McLemore, Andrea Sullivan and Amanda Summerford. The four seniors have combined for 363 wins and have helped lead a resurgence of Arkansas softball including the first ranking in school history. The series finale will be Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
“In the past we were hoping to go out and escape with a win,” head coach Mike Larabee said. “This year we are expecting to win. I hope we have great attendance for senior day on Saturday. We are playing exciting softball right now.”
The Auburn Tigers come into Bogle Park boasting a 30-20 record and a 7-14 mark in the SEC. The Tigers currently sit in 11th place in the SEC, a game out of qualifying for the SEC tournament. Auburn is led by freshman Emily Carosone. She is hitting .399 this season and has started all 50 games. Also hitting well has been sophomore Branndi Melero. She leads the team with nine homeruns and 44 RBI. The Canyon County, Calif. native is also one of five hitters hitting at over a .300 pace, she is batting .364 through her 48 games. In the circle it is Marcy Harper that leads the Tigers. She leads the team with 16 wins and 31 appearances. The freshman has also registered 122 strikeouts in her 154 innings pitched. Arkansas defeated Auburn once last season by a score of 5-1. Auburn leads the all-time series 28-20.
“Auburn is battling to get into the SEC tournament,” Larabee said. “They are going to fighting and scratching to get into the bracket. In my three years here, we have only beat them once. It is going to be tough because they are in a must win situation.”
Arkansas has won its last three series, all against ranked teams. The Razorbacks took game one from No. 2 Tennessee last weekend. The following two games of the series were rained out, giving Arkansas its third series win in a row. This was also the ninth ranked win for the Hogs this season. The team defeated No. 8 Missouri on April 13 and 14 and followed the Top-10 wins by taking two-of-three from No. 17 Kentucky from April 19-21.
“The win against Tennessee was a great accomplishment for our program,” Larabee said. “Kimmy Beasley threw a great game and we manufactured some runs. To go into Knoxville and take a game from one of the top programs in the country was great.”
Leading the way for the Razorbacks has been Jennifer Rambo. The junior has been tearing the cover off of the softball as of late. Rambo is hitting .714 in her last four games and went 2-for-3 with an RBI against No. 2 Tennessee. She has also hit two homeruns, a double and has walked three times in the four-game hot streak.
“Jennifer Rambo has come up big for us,” Larabee said. “She is hitting the ball well and has stepped up for in key situations. Last weekend against Tennessee she had a huge two-out RBI that gave us the win.”
The weekend series could lead to a milestone for sophomore Devon Wallace. She is two walks away from breaking the SEC single-season walks record of 66. The record is currently held by Cassie Reilly-Boccia, who played for Alabama and set the record in 2010. Wallace is on pace to set the UA single-season record in batting average (.391), on-base percentage (.628) and slugging percentage (.800).
“She has a mindset of not expanding the strike-zone,” Larabee said. “She believes in her teammates behind her to get the job done. We bat her leadoff so that she gets the most amount of at-bats. She is very team oriented. Devon will do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Arkansas also has a chance to clinch its first SEC Tournament berth since 2010, this weekend. The Hogs currently sit in eighth place in the conference, but have a chance to move up in the standings. A sweep against Auburn paired with two losses apiece from Georgia and Kentucky would vault Arkansas into the six-seed and a first round bye. Georgia hosts No. 7 LSU this weekend, while Kentucky travels to No. 8 Alabama.
Admission to Bogle Park is only $4 dollars and all kids 17 and under get into the park for free.