St. George, Utah (Univ. of Ark.) - The University of Arkansas softball team topped the Utah Utes on Sunday, 5-1 at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah.
Arkansas finished the Red Desert Classic with a perfect five wins and zero loses. This is the first time in Arkansas softball history that a team has started 5-0. Previously, the best start for the Hogs was 4-1 in 2012. Leading the way for the Razorbacks on Sunday was senior Chelsea Cohen and freshman Stephanie Canfield. Head coach Mike Larabee was excited to post the best five game start in school history.
"Utah is a scrappy ball club." Larabee said. "This was a great win. Our goal was to come out here and win five games and we did that."
Cohen went through the first 3.1 innings without allowing a hit. She allowed three walks in the first three innings but settled in and regained control in the final four. Cohen finished the game allowing only one run with six strikeouts and allowed four hits. Larabaee was happy with the performance of his senior.
"She really battled," Larabee said. "You aren't always going to have your best stuff, but she really grinded it out today. Her changeup was working great today."
The Arkansas offense was paced by Canfield. She went 3-for-4 with a triple and two RBI. The newcomer went 12-for-21 in her first five games as a Razorback with five RBI, two triples and three runs scored. Larabee was ecstatic about his freshman's performance after the game.
"She is such a complete player," Larabee said. "Both offensively and defensively, she is a magician with the bat. She is the true triple-threat that you love to coach."
After two scoreless innings, Arkansas jumped on the board in the third inning when Chloe Oprzedek hit her first homerun of the season over the leftfield fence. Oprzedek continued her hot start of the 2013 season versus Utah, going 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. She has now hit .538 through the first five games of the season.
The scoring continued in the top of the fifth for the Razorbacks. Sierra Bronkey used a seven-pitch at bat and ripped a single down the rightfield line. Ashley Martindale came in to pinch run and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Oprzedek. Martindale then stole third base and scored when Canfield hit a two-run triple. Devon Wallace also scored on the play after walking.
The hits continued in the fifth inning as Clarisa Navarro lined a single up the middle that scored Canfield and gave Arkansas a four run lead. The Razorbacks scored three runs on four hits in the fifth.
The Utes scored their first run in the bottom of the sixth inning when Chalese Fankhauser hit a towering ball into the outfield. The wind carried it over the fence for a homerun. The Razorback lead was cut to three at 4-1.
Arkansas added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Wallace scored on a wild pitch from pitcher Kayce Nieto. Wallace has now scored eight runs on the young season while batting .400. She also has drawn seven walks.
Cohen handled her half of the seventh, bouncing back from the homerun and retiring the Utes. The Razorbacks left St. George with their fifth win of the season.
Next up, the Razorbacks will travel to Jackson, Miss. to take on the Jackson State Tigers in a doubleheader. Game one is slated for Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. CT.