Jason Pattyson // Sports Reporter // @thejpattyson
Jason Pattyson // Sports Reporter // @thejpattyson
The Arkansas Razorback Softball team made the most of the opening weekend in Bogle Park and won five of six games to improve their record to 13-3.
A game-winning single helped propel the Hogs over the Arizona Wildcats 3-2 in the season home opener. Sophomore infielder Spencer Prigge got Arkansas on the scoreboard first with a single to right field to plate junior infielder Hannah Gammill and junior transfer infielder Kylie Halvorson to lead 2-0.
“It was really good to be at home in front of our fans,” said Arkansas Head softball coach Courtney Deifel. “You could tell they were really excited, and I think if it wasn’t for the weather, we would have had a lot more people come out, but overall, it feels good to be back home.”
Junior pitcher Chenise Delce had a strong outing and went the distance for the Razorbacks. She allowed two runs off four hits and struck out 12 batters over seven innings. Delce got into trouble in the top of the seventh inning when she gave up a two-run home run to Arizona pitcher Devyn Netz, who tied the score at two apiece.
The Hogs had some late-inning heroics up their sleeves. Junior catcher Hannah Gammill came up to the plate with runners on second and third base, and she laced the winning hit to right center field that scored freshman outfielder Regan Johnson for the victory.
Defense and tough pitching stymied Arkansas in game two of the doubleheader and dropped their first game in Bogle Park, 5-2, Thursday. Arkansas’ Halvorson knocked in their first run with a single to right field to take a 1-0 lead.
Arizona infielder Tayler Biehl made a throwing error to 2nd base and allowed a second run to cross the plate. Then it was all Wildcats from there. Arizona roughed up freshman Robyn Herron after three spotless innings of work but gave up four runs; three were earned off of two hits, an error, one walk, and a hit batsman.
Redshirt junior pitcher Callie Turner replaced Herron and got out of a jam striking out three batters to end the wildcat threat. Turner worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning. Still, a run scored after grad transfer Christina Foreman fielded a ground ball and tagged the runner out, advancing to second, but her throw was late to first base and allowed a fifth Wildcat run to cross the plate to finish the scoring for the nightcap.
Game one on Friday against Drake University was a marathon that lasted 11 innings, and Arkansas came out on top, 4-3. Halvorson’s bat was the story of the game. She had two game-changing hits, one in the seventh and one in the eleventh inning, for the Razorbacks.
She came up in the bottom of the seventh inning with two out with a runner on third and drove a pitch to left field, and Gammill scored to tie the game at 3-3. Later, Halvorson came up again, this time in the bottom of the 11th inning, with the bases loaded and connected on a pitch that plated freshman Lauren Camenzind for the win.
“Honestly, I just try to make the moment not too big. We prepare for it every day in practice. Said Halvorson about her late-inning hit. “The prior at-bat, she threw me more changeups, and so I was looking for her lower pitch and her changeup because they’re kind of like the ball on the same elevation. So I can kind of hit both of them, and so it was lower inside pitch, and I was ready for it.”
Freshman pitcher Nikki McGaffin got the start for the Hogs, but she exited the game in the second inning after giving up two runs. Freshman Hannah Camenzind replaced her. This marked the first time in Razorback history twins took the field as pitcher and catcher dating back to the start of when Arkansas softball records were kept since 2013.
“They’re just in sync, so it’s really special to see them work together,” Deifel said of the Camenzind twins. “I’m really excited that we’ll get to see a lot of that in the next four years.”
Freshman pitcher Robyn Herron replaced Camenzind, and she had another quality outing, tossing 5 ⅔ innings, striking out a career-high 14 batters, and walking three batters, according to Arkansas Razorback Softball Twitter account that tied for the most strikeouts in a game when Mary Haff did it on Mar. 11, 2022. Delce replaced Herron and shut the door on the Bulldogs’ offense with three solid innings of work, and she didn’t give up a run to preserve the victory.
In game two against Arizona, both teams’ pitchers were locked in from the start dealing strikes all evening. The Razorbacks and Wildcats both posted a run each in the second inning. Arizona’s Carlie Scupin hit a solo home run to center off Turner in the top of the frame. Freshman infielder Atalyia Rijo drove in sophomore outfielder Raigan Kramer from third base to tie the game at one apiece.
Utility fielder redshirt junior Rylin Hedgcock sent her first of two home runs on the weekend off Arizona, pitching to the bleachers in right field at the top of the sixth inning to take a 2-1 lead.
Arkansas faced Drake Saturday afternoon for a second straight day. The Razorbacks wanted to ensure their next game against the Bulldogs didn’t go into another extra-inning marathon and captured a 7-2 win in seven innings.
The Razorbacks got on the board first with a three-run home run from Hegecock, her second home run in as many days. The Hog offense continued to turn out runs in the second inning, scoring two more times to extend the lead to 5-0.
Gammill’s big weekend continued with a two-RBI single that drove in Kramer and Rijo. She finished with six hits, three RBIs, and five runs scored. Freshman utility infielder Rylee Cloud belted a single to left-center, and redshirt freshman Chelsi Possage scored on the play. Hannah Camenzind then hit a single to the second baseman, and Clouds’ speed allowed her to score from second base on the play, 7-0 Hogs, after five innings.
Drake couldn’t find any success against Turner over the first five innings. She kept the Bulldogs off balance in the batter’s box until the sixth inning. They found some success, scoring two runs, all earned, in the frame, but that would be all Drake could put together. Herron replaced Turner in the seventh inning and slammed the door on the Bulldog offense for the Razorback win. Turner ended the day giving up two runs off four hits and striking out seven over six innings of work.
Sunday, Arkansas got off to a fast start for a second straight day scoring three runs in the first inning. Halvorson came to the plate in the first inning and sent a Drake offering over the left field wall that scored Gammill, who was on first base.
The Razorbacks loaded the bases after the home run, and Camenzind drew a bases-loaded walk to score Hoffman and extend the lead to 3-0. The scoring continued for Arkansas in the Hog half of the third inning when Hoffman hit a long fly ball over the wall in right-center field to give the Razorbacks a 5-0 advantage.
The Bogle bombers weren’t done and scored the final three runs in the fifth inning to run-rule Drake 8-0. That came by way of a double by Johnson; she knocked in the final two runs of the game to end it.
Delce went the distance for the Hogs; in her final stat line, she didn’t give up a run and scattered two hits, only giving up in the first inning. She walked one batter and struck out six batters to collect her seventh win of the season. Arkansas will host the Woo Pig Classic at Bogle Park, March 2-5. They will host Iowa State, North Texas, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi for the weekend tilt. Check the Razorback Athletic website for times and streaming options, as they will vary next weekend. The first pitch for game one is set for Thursday, Mar. 2, at 4 p.m. against the Iowa State Cyclones.