(Photo: Wesley Hitt/Arkansas)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The University of Arkansas softball team defeated the Tulsa Golden Hurricane 14-3 in five innings and fell in tournament play, 3-1, to Tulsa, on Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla. at the Unconquered Invitational.
Arkansas (8-3) will play in the consolation game of the Unconquered Invitational and will face Hofstra Sunday at 11:30 a.m. CT. Head coach Mike Larabee switched up the lineup in game one versus Tulsa, inserting Jennifer Rambo at second base. She made the most of her opportunity, going 2-for-3 with a triple and four RBI in game one. She followed the breakout performance going 1-for-3 with a solo homerun in tournament play, in game two versus Tulsa. Coach Larabee thought the lineup change paid off in both games.
"We just wanted to get that bat into the lineup," Larabee said. "She also played really well defensively today. She came up with some big hits today."
Game two featured a terrific outing from senior pitcher Hope McLemore, she went seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits. Larabee was happy with her first start of the invitational.
"Hope pitched well enough to win," Larabee said. "We just didn't give her the offensive support. She is going to keep us in every game that she pitches."
Also having a nice game one at the plate were; Clarisa Navarro, who went 2-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and three RBI, Devon Wallace, who went 2-for-2 with a double, a walk and three runs scored and Amanda Geile, who went 2-for-2 with a walk, two runs and an RBI. Coach Larabee was happy with the offensive production in game one.
"I thought we came out and competed hard today after a disappointing Friday," Larabee said. "I was very proud of our athletes in both games and the hitting in game one today."
The Razorbacks jumped out to an early lead in game one, scoring two runs on a Rambo single up the middle. Navarro and Wallace scored on the play to give Arkansas a 2-0 lead.
Tulsa bounced back in the top of the second with two singles to open the inning. After a walk to Julie Kernen, the bases were loaded with one out for Catherine Horner. Horner drew a four-pitch walk, cutting the lead in half. After another run was walked in, Larabee pulled the plug on starter Kelly Young and inserted sophomore Kimmy Beasley with the bases still loaded and one out. Caitlin Everett connected on a fastball and lined it up the middle, scoring another run and giving Tulsa a 3-2 lead. Beasley retired the next two batters and got out of the inning with minimal damage.
Jayme Gee started the next inning with a solo homerun to centerfield to tie the game at three runs apiece. Chloe Oprzedek followed the homerun with a walk and then scored on a two-RBI double into the leftfield gap by Navarro. Wallace continued the run scoring in the second with a standup double that scored Navarro. Rambo increased her RBI total to four in the game when she lined a triple down the rightfield line. Rambo would score on a throwing error on the play, giving Arkansas its seventh run of the inning.
With a 9-3 lead heading into the third, Beasley started to settle in, retiring nine of the next ten batters she faced and striking out three. She received the win after pitching 3.2 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out four.
Oprzedek tallied her second hit of the game to start the third. She then stole second base and scored on an RBI hit from Navarro, Canfield also scored on the play, giving Arkansas an 11-3 lead. Wallace continued the inning with her ninth walk of the year and Arkansas added another run on the next at bat when Geile lined a single up the middle, scoring Navarro. Wallace caught the Tulsa defense sleeping after Rambo grounded out to second and scored her third run from second base on the play, giving Arkansas a 13-3 lead. Both Navarro and Wallace each tallied three runs in the game. Lauren Montgomery then pinch hit, and used her first collegiate at bat to line an RBI double down the left field line. Arkansas won game won, 14-3 and out-hit the Golden Hurricane 12-to-4.
The result of game number one put Arkansas in the No. 4 seed for tournament play. This meant that Arkansas would face the No. 1 seeded Tulsa, again, later in the day.
Game two saw McLemore take the mound and face trouble immediately in the first inning, when she faced a bases loaded jam with no outs. The senior captain was able to get Lacey Middlebrooks to ground out, Oprzedek followed with a nice play by the Arkansas dugout, snagging a Haley Henshaw fly ball out of the air for out two. McLemore got Cassidy Bowen to ground out and end the inning.
In the top half of the second inning Rambo continued her hot streak as she belted a solo homerun into the rightfield trees. Rambo's fifth RBI of the day gave Arkansas a 1-0 lead.
A pitchers dual developed in the next three innings as the seniors, McLemore and Middlebrooks tried to out-pitch each other for a spot in finals. The shutout ended for McLemore when Middlebrooks reached on a fielder's choice and plated Everett. The game was tied 1-1 heading into the sixth.
McLemore shut down the Golden Hurricane offense in the sixth behind a great play from Canfield in right field. She tracked down a rocket off the bat and caught it on a dead sprint into the warning track. The game was sent into the seventh at a 1-1 tie.
After the Razorbacks were unable to score in the top half of the seventh, McLemore forced Everett to fly out to left. Jill Barrett was then retired on a nice play from Navarro at shortstop. After Samantha Cobb walked, Middlebrooks ended the game on a walk-off homerun over the centerfield wall.
The team will conclude its play in the Unconquered Invitational Sunday when they square off with Hofstra in the consolation game. The contest is slated to begin at 11:30 a.m. CT.