MONTICELLO, Ark. (UAM) -- The University of Arkansas at Monticello softball team opened the 2013 season with victories over Cameron University (3-0) and Washburn University (11-3) at home on the first day of the UAM Hampton Inn Classic.
The 11-3 win over Washburn gave UAM softball coach Alvy Early his 600th career victory. Now in his 17th year at the helm of the UAM softball program, the reigning Great American Conference coach of the year holds a 600-291-2 overall record.
The Cotton Blossoms started the day with a complete-game shutout pitching performance from senior Randa Perry. The left-handed hurler scattered five hits, struck out four and only gave up one walk in seven innings of work. She only allowed the Lady Aggies (0-1) to reach scoring position on three different occasions.
UAM's scoring started with an RBI double from senior Maggie Sands in the bottom of the third inning to score junior Hannah Pendley, who reached on an error to lead off the inning. Sands made the complete trip around the bases on that double thanks to a throwing error from the CU centerfielder.
The Cotton Blossoms finalized the scoring on an RBI fly out from Pendley in the bottom of the fourth that scored junior Channing Tharpe from third. Tharpe walked to lead off the inning, moved to second on a single by Perry and moved to third on a walk by sophomore Sydney Tipton.
CU's Samantha Betts (0-1) took the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) off seven hits with six strikeouts and four walks in six innings of work.
UAM exploded in the second game of the day to start the season undefeated with a five-run fourth inning, highlighted by a grand-slam homerun by Tharpe. Junior Brittany Eitel started the scoring rally one batter earlier with a bases-loaded walk.
UAM started its scoring in the bottom of the first with a two-RBI double from Eitel to score junior Summer Huddleston and junior Both Johnson, both reaching base on a base on balls.
The Blossoms took advantage of a WU error and two hit batters to score four runs in the second, highlighted by a two-RBI double from sophomore Sara Matthews.
Washburn (1-1) got on the board in the third on an RBI double from Katie Schroeder and finalized its run production on a two-run homerun from Lauren Thimmesch in the fourth.
Sophomore Katie Slaughter (1-0) recorded the victory after allowing three runs off five hits with two strikeouts and no walks in five innings of work. WU's Marina Quimby took the loss, allowing all 11 runs (eight earned) off nine hits with one strikeout and seven walks in four innings.
The Cotton Blossoms are back in action in the Hampton Inn Classic on Sunday with an 11 a.m. contest with Newman and a 1 p.m. rematch with Cameron.