FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – In its third non-conference tournament to start the season, the Razorback softball team will participate at the FAU/FIU Strikeout Cancer Tournament in Florida. Arkansas (6-3) will begin the event in Boca Raton, Fla., with four games before heading to Miami for the final contest of the tournament.“From a difficulty standpoint, this will probably be the best tournament we’ve played in so far this season,” head coach Jamie Pinkerton said. “Florida Atlantic is receiving votes (in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll), Missouri is ranked in the top 20, FIU always has a scrappy ball club and Fordham has already beaten a nationally ranked team this season, so we’ll really see where we’re at with the quality of competition in this field.”
The Razorbacks open play with a pair of games against the tournament co-hosts, FIU and Florida Atlantic. On day two, Arkansas will face its first ranked opponent of the season in No. 16/15 Missouri, followed by a second meeting with Florida Atlantic. The tournament shifts to Miami for the final day of competition where the Razorbacks will close out play against Fordham.
Arkansas is led offensively by Whitney Cloer, who is tied for sixth in the Southeastern Conference with a .500 batting average. The senior catcher leads the conference in doubles with six and is tied for third in total hits with 15. Cloer has hit safely in eight of Arkansas’ nine games, including five games with two or more hits.
At the top of the lineup, Jessica Bachkora has been an unexpected power supply for the Razorbacks. Entering the season with just one career home run, the junior outfielder has clubbed three home runs through Arkansas’ first nine games. In the circle, Miranda Dixon leads the team in wins and saves with three each.
Florida Atlantic is 6-4 through its first 10 games of the season. At the plate, the Owls are led by Caitlyn Bliss and her .500 batting average. Through the first two weekends of play, she has twice been named the Sun Belt Player of the Week. Carrie Ann Potter is 2-0 in the circle for FAU with 11 strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA. The Owls lead the all-time series with Arkansas, 2-1, but the teams haven’t met since 2001.
FIU (6-4) have a quartet of players hitting over .320, led by Jenny Welsh who is hitting .435. In the circle, the Golden Panters have Jennifer Gniadek who is 4-2 with a 1.24 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 28.1 innings of work. The Razorbacks have won three of four games with FIU, including a 13-4 victory last season at the Wilson/DeMarini Invitational in Tempe, Ariz.
Fordham is 2-3 after its opening weekend. Current Atlantic 10 Player of the Week Samantha Pellechi leads the team with a .467 batting average. She also has two home runs and seven RBI. Lindsey Bright is hitting .429 for the Rams.
No. 16/15 Missouri (3-0) opened its season by winning the Georgia State First Pitch Classic. The Tigers will be led by Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List member Rhea Taylor. She is the defending Big 12 Freshman of the Year and earned a spot on the All-American second team last season. In the last meeting between Arkansas and Missouri, the Tigers came away with the victory in a 12-11 slugfest in Fayetteville.
The FAU/FIU Strikeout Cancer Tournament is Arkansas’ last event before its home opener next weekend, the Holiday Inn-NWA Razorback Invitational. It will be the Razorbacks’ first competition on its new home field, Bogle Park. For more information and live stats, log on to ArkansasRazorbacks.com.
Download: 2009 notes.pdf