FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (Univ. of Ark.) - The University of Arkansas softball team fell to the ULM Warhawks, 7-6 in eight innings and defeated Saint Louis University by a score of 8-0 in six innings at Bogle Park Sunday in the Arkansas Invitational.
The Murray State Racers won the Arkansas Invitational, defeating ULM by a score of 10-to-2 in six innings in the Championship game Sunday.
Game two starter Chelsea Cohen was dominant. She went six scoreless innings, three hits, while striking out a career-high 13 batters. The 13 strikeouts recorded was three behind the all-time UA record for strikeouts in a game, set in 2004 by Heather Schlichtman versus Marshall. Cohen improved to 5-2 on the year, registering a loss in game one and a win in game two.
"I thought she was spot-on," Head coach Mike Larabee said. "She located all of her pitches, throwing the rise, drop, change and curve. She just got ahead in counts. You are going to be successful if you are ahead in the count.
Offensively, for Arkansas, it was Jennifer Rambo putting together a great day in the batter's box, going 3-for-6 with a homerun, four RBI and a run scored on the day. Sierra Bronkey had the big hit of game one as she lined a three-run double into leftfield wall in the second inning. She followed the big hit in game one by going 4-for-4 in game two with three RBI.
Devon Wallace, the 2012 SEC freshman of the year, finished the Arkansas Invitational going 6-for-11 with two homeruns, four RBI and sic runs scored. Wallace also drew seven walks and stole two bases.
"It was phenomenal for her," Larabee said. "Last year we didn't really have a lot around her. This year the bottom of our has been clutching up. We just generate a lot more runs because of that."
Game one of tournament play featured the Razorbacks taking on the Warhawks of ULM. After scoring 16 runs yesterday, the Arkansas bats stayed hot in inning number one of Sunday. Navarro plated the first run of the game on a triple, scoring Bronkey. Two batters later, Rambo hit a two-run homerun deep into the rightfield grass, giving the Razorbacks a 3-0 lead after one.
The scoring continued in the second as Jayme Gee walked and Chloe Oprzedek followed with a single. Kyndra Meeker then came in to pinch run and Wallace walked for an SEC-leading 17th time this season. This loaded the bases for Bronkey. She came through in a big way, driving a three-run double to the leftfield gap, giving the Hogs a 6-0 lead.
Game one starter Kimmy Beasley worked through the Warkhawk lineup into the third inning and was helped out by a fantastic diving catch from Navarro for out number one in the third. Beasley faced trouble with two outs as Faith Bohack doubled to left. She then scored when Kayla Boening drove a single into center, making the score 6-1.
More trouble arrived in the fourth as the Warhawks had runners at second and third with nobody out. Beasley was able to take command and strikeout Kayla Prater, Hope Mair and Cayla Unverzagt to end the top of the inning.
ULM cut the lead to two in the fifth as Mackenzie Miller doubled to start the inning. She eventually scored on a sacrifice bunt from Alexis Cacioppo that made the second out of the inning. Janel Salanoa then singled to bring in Boening, cutting the lead in half. Haley McCall followed with a double to make the score 6-4 heading to the bottom of the fifth. This ended the day for Beasley, she went 4.2 innings, gave up four runs on seven hits, while striking out four. Hope McLemore came in to get the final out of the fifth.
The Arkansas defense struggled in the sixth as they committed two errors on one play that led to one run by the Warhawks. The errors left Boening at third with two outs for Cacioppo. She singled up the middle to tie the game at six apiece. McLemore then gave way to Cohen and she finished the inning, recording the final out as Prater flied out to Bronkey at second with the bases loaded.
After Cohen struck out the side in the top half of the seventh, Amanda Summerford led off the bottom with a walk after forcing a 3-2 count. Rambo followed the walk with a walk of her own, putting two runners on for Nicole Schroeder. She grounded into a fielder's choice as ULM retired the lead runner at third. Claire Clark then came to bat and grounded into a double play. The Warhawks and Razorbacks continued play into extra innings.
The senior captain, Cohen, retired Bohack on a flyout and then struck out Boening to bring up Cacioppo with two outs and nobody on. The sophomore from ULM then belted a linedrive over the fence in leftfield, giving the Warhawks a 7-to-6 lead.
The bottom of the eighth began with Gee flying out to rightfield and Oprzedek lining out to the shortstop, Bohack. Wallace came to bat with two outs and nobody on and walked. Bronkey then stepped up to the plate against Haylie Wilson. Bronkey struck out looking to end the game. Wilson finished the game going 6.2 scoreless innings, she gave up three hits while collecting the win. This meant that ULM would advance to the championship game against Murray State, while the Razorbacks fell to the consolation game versus Saint Louis.
Game two started with Cohen striking out the side in the first inning. The Arkansas offense used the momentum from their senior captain to put a run up in the bottom half of the first. Wallace started the inning with her 19th walk of the season and then scored on a Rambo single to rightfield, giving the Hogs a 1-0 lead.
Clark led off the second with a walk and then scored when Bronkey singled to right. Oprzedek also scored on the play to make the score 3-0, Hogs. This was Bronkey's second hit of the game.
Cohen retired the next seven batters, striking out four. The only blunder was a strikeout that was dropped by Gee behind the plate in the fourth inning. After the passed ball, Alyson Brand singled to leftfield, putting two runners on with one out for Kelsey Biggs. Cohen got Biggs to chase a changeup for strike three and then struck out Laura Bohning to end the inning. This was Cohen's ninth strikeout of the game and 19th in her two starts this weekend.
The scoring continued in the fourth when Clark drew her second walk of the game. She advanced to second on a passed ball and then reached third because of a beautiful sacrifice bunt from Gee. The freshman scored her second run of the game when Oprzedek grounded out to second, making the score 4-0, Arkansas.
Cohen continued to deal in the fifth, notching two more strikeouts and improving her total to 11. This set a new career-high for the senior captain.
Arkansas added its fifth run of the game on another groundout, this time from Rambo. The groundout plated Ashley Martindale for her seventh run of the season in the fifth inning.
The Razorbacks scored their sixth run of the game in the sixth inning after a Lauren Mongomery single. The infield hit scored Clark from third. This was Clark's third run scored of the game and fourth of the season. Gee then singled and then was pinch ran for by Alyssa Bass, who scored on a Bronkey single. Also scoring on the play was Kyndra Meeker. This ended the game and gave the Razorbacks an 8-to-0 win in six innings.
Next up, the Razorbacks will host another tournament from March 1-3. The Woo Pig Classic will feature the same round-robin style tournament as the Arkansas Invitational. Arkansas will welcome Wright State, Northern Iowa and Jacksonville State to Bogle Park. Game one of the Classic for the Hogs will be against Wright State on March 1 at 3 p.m.