COLUMBIA, S.C. – University of Arkansas sophomore Sandra Smith hit a three-run home run to lead the Lady Razorbacks to a 3-2 victory against South Carolina on Saturday at Beckham Field in Columbia, S.C. Arkansas dropped game one 5-4 to split wins with the Gamecocks in its first Southeastern Conference contests of the year.
Sophomore Miranda Dixon tallied a career-high 10 strikeouts in Arkansas’ victory and helped the Lady’Backs improve to 19-5 and 1-1 in the SEC. South Carolina is 12-9 and 1-1 in conference play.
“I was really happy with the way the girls bounced back in game two and got even,” said head coach Jamie Pinkerton. “After having a heart-breaking loss in game one, the young ladies were resilient. It was a tough day to play. It was cold and windy and raw, but we braved the elements.”
Down 1-0 in the top of the fourth inning, with two runners on and one out, Smith launched her ninth home run of the season, a three-run shot to left field, to put the Lady’Backs up 3-1 on South Carolina. Sophomores Jessica Bachkora and Miranda Dixon were on base as Bachkroa led off with a double down the left-field line and Dixon drew a walk.
The Gamecocks jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the game, with doubles by Laura Mendes and Jessica Josker in the bottom of the first.
In the fifth on two outs, back-to-back singles by Whitney Wierzbicki and Ashton Payne put runners on first and third for South Carolina. Dixon then struck out Mendes for what would have been the third out of the inning, but the pitch was in the dirt. After Junior Whitney Cloer scooped up the pitch, she threw down to first for the putout, but the ball bounced off Mendes’ helmet and into right field, allowing Mendes to reach first, Payne to advance to second and Wierzbicki to score from third to put USC within one.
Leading 3-2 going into the bottom of the seventh, Arkansas held on to its 3-2 lead for its first SEC win in 2008.
Dixon (7-2) also earned her first SEC win of the year throwing a complete game. She gave up two runs on four hits and fanned a career-high 10 batters.
Krystle Robinson moved to 5-4 with the loss. Robinson gave up three runs on three hits and struck out seven, throwing seven complete innings.
In Arkansas’ first SEC game, the Lady’Backs got off to a one-run lead in the top of the first. With Bachkora on second and two outs Smith hit a towering fly ball to right field that blew back to the edge of the grass, scoring Bachkora from second.
South Carolina evened the score in the bottom of the inning, scoring Mendes from third on a wild pitch after three consecutive singles by Mendes, Jill Semento and Josker.
After three deadlocked innings, Arkansas cracked the game open in the top of the fifth. Senior Samantha Buckner singled down the right-field line to lead things off. Junior Brandy Foust pinch ran for Buckner at first and stole second on two outs with Bachkora at bat. Bachkora then reached on a dropped fly ball in the infield and took off for second, causing another error by the infield at second base. Bachkora was safe and Foust scored on the play. Bachkora advanced to third on a wild pitch before Johnson singled through the left side scoring Bachkora. Johnson then stole second and a throwing error allowed her to advance all the way home for the 4-1 Arkansas lead.
In the bottom of the fifth, a single by Payne, a fielder’s choice and an Arkansas error put Mendes on first and Payne on second. Semento then stepped to the plate, hitting a two-run double to left center to put USC with in one, 4-3.
South Carolina rallied for two runs and the 5-4 win in the bottom of the seventh off of a lead-off triple to left center by Payne and a double down the left-field line by Mendes.
Henry picked up her second loss of the year falling to 10-2. She gave up five runs on eight hits and struck out nine.
Melissa Hendon evened her record to 4-4 with the win. She threw a complete game, giving up four runs on three hits and striking out 10.
“In game one, I thought we took advantage of what they gave us, we just didn’t finish and that’s what made that game tough,” said Pinkerton.
Arkansas returns to the diamond tomorrow facing South Carolina in the final game of the series at 1 p.m.
“South Carolina’s going to come back out and try to maintain their home turf, but our goal tomorrow is to take the series,” said Pinkerton.
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