Photo Courtesy: UA Athletics (Walt Beazley)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - The University of Arkansas softball team will open its home schedule on Friday, Feb. 22 and host the Arkansas Invitational. The home opener for the Razorbacks will be Friday at 3 p.m. versus the University of Louisiana-Monroe.
The team picked up three wins last week including a win against now No. 24 Tulsa. The Hogs swept a doubleheader at Jackson State on Feb. 12 and then defeated Tulsa on Feb. 16 by a score of 14-3. Arkansas' record stands at 12-4 going into its first homestand of the year. Head coach Mike Larabee thinks that the team can improve after the long road trip.
"We still have a lot of work to do," Larabee said. "We have some work to do defensively, that was a big problem last weekend. I thought there were two or three games where we beat ourselves."
This weekend the Razorbacks open their home schedule, hosting the Arkansas Invitational. Also competing in the Invitational will be Saint Louis University, Louisiana-Monroe and Murray State. The tournament will feature round-robin play followed by seeded games on Sunday, Feb. 24. After the semifinals, the winners will play in a championship game on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 4:30 p.m., preceded by a consolation game at 2 p.m. Arkansas' first game will be Feb. 22 versus ULM at 3 p.m. The Razorbacks play Murray State and Saint Louis at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. respectively on Feb. 23 before entering seeded play. Larabee is looking forward to starting the home schedule.
"We have 14 straight games at home before we head into SEC play," Larabee said. "I really feel that we need to take it one game at a time. It isn't who we play, it's how we play. We have got to get back to playing Razorback Softball."
Leading the Arkansas offense so far this season have been; Stephanie Canfield (.432), Devon Wallace (.382), Clarisa Navarro (.341), Jennifer Rambo(.400), Chloe Oprzedek (.310) and Amanda Geile (.324). Canfield, a freshman, is off to a terrific start in her first season. She leads the team in total bases (23), batting average (.432) and triples (2). She is third in the SEC and leads the team with 19 hits. Wallace, the reigning SEC freshman of the year, is off to another hot start in 2013. She leads the team and is first in the SEC in walks with 11. She has also tallied a .618 slugging percentage while leading the team in homeruns with two. Navarro has also been great at the plate. She is tied for second in the SEC and leads the team with five doubles. The junior college transfer also leads the team with 10 RBI. Head coach Mike Larabee thinks the team can still improve offensively.
"We are getting the runners in scoring position," Larabee said. "Be we have got to get timely hits and get in those key runs. I like the way our team is hitting."
The biggest spark plug of the weekend was the junior utility player, Rambo. After she was inserted into the starting lineup on Feb. 16 she went 5-for-7 with five RBI, a homerun, a triple and a double. She also scored three runs in the three games she started over the weekend.
"She started off slow in Utah," Larabee said. "She came in and gave us a big lift offensively last weekend. She has been a starter for the past couple years and that is what we expect out of our upperclassman."
After the Arkansas Invitational, the team will host its second tournament in as many weeks. The Woo Pig Classic will begin on Fri. March 1 and will feature the Hogs battling Wright State, Northern Iowa and Jacksonville State.