Arkansas softball comes up just short of being Perfect in Paradise

By DUDLEY E. DAWSON

Arkansas won a slugfest Saturday morning in the Sunshine State, but came up just a bit short of being perfect in Paradise later in the day.

The Razorbacks downed Michigan State 6-5 in the opener before falling to Penn State 3-2 in eight innings in their second game of the day.

Arkansas (4-1) was bidding to start the season 5-0 for the second straight year, but Emily Maddock’s walk off single handed Penn State (3-0) the win in the Paradise Classic in Boca Raton, Fla.

Arkansas pitcher Robyn Herron (2-1) got the win in the opener while pitching 1 1/3 innings of relief and then started and went the distance and got the loss in game two.

Arkansas opened the second-game scoring in the top of the first when Rylin Hedgecock’s sacrifice fly scored Reagan Johnson, who had two singles in the first two innings.

Liana Jones’ RBI triple tied it in the bottom of the second, but Herron stranded her at third to keep it deadlocked 1-1.

Nia Carter’s bases-loaded single in the top of the fourth pushed Arkansas ahead 2-1, but Haylie Brunson delivered one of her own in the bottom half of frame to make it 2-2.

It stayed that way through the seventh inning in a game in which the Razorbacks had just four hits and left 11 runners on base.

Arkansas got courtesy runner Raigan Kramer to third in the top of the eighth when Hannah Gammill bunted her over, but Mady Volpe whiffed Spencer Prigge and Kennedy Miller to end the threat.

Lydia Spalding served as the courtesy runner for Penn State, moved up on Kaitlyn Morrison’s bunt and Maddock’s single then drove in the game winner.

Johnson and Carter – the first two batters in Arkansas line up – had all of their team’s four hits with each getting a couple.

The pair were combined 17 of 38 with 9 runs scored in the five games with Johnson going 10 for 20 at the plate and Carter 7 of 18.

Maddox and Brunson had two hits each of Penn State’s five hits and Jones the other.

Herron pitched 7 1/3 innings while allowing three runs, two earned, fanning 10 and walking just one.

Winning pitcher Bridget Nemeth (3-0) fanned three in two scoreless innings after relieving starter Paige Maynard in the fourth.

Volpe got the final nine outs, walking three and striking out three.

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In the opener and for the first time in four games, Arkansas did not jump out to a lead.

Michigan State did so as Macy Lee delivered a sacrifice fly off Arkansas starter Reis Beuerlein to chase Alexis Ross home and put the Spartans up 1-0.

Cylie Halvorson and Hannah Gammill both hit the first home runs of the season in the opener while Bri Ellis had a two-run single in the third inning that pushed her team-leading RBI total to 7.

Gammill got an RBI when she was hit with a bases loaded pitch in the fourth and then launched a two-run blast to put Arkansas up 6-2 in the bottom of the fifth.

Britain Beshears’ 3-run cut the Spartans’ deficit to 6-5, but Herron relieved Hannah Camenzind relieved Herron and got the final four outs of the contest.

Jonnson, Carter, Hedgecock, Ellis, Halvorson, Gammill and Lauren Camenzind all had one hit in the opener.

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Arkansas will return to action next Friday when it travels to the Bear Fiesta Classic in Tucson, Ariz.

The Razorbacks are slated to play Friday against Long Beach State (noon CST) and Arizona (5 p.m.), Saturday contests with Omaha (1:30 p.m.) and Arizona (5 p.m.) and Sunday morning.

Photo courtesy of Arkansas

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