FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For the first time ever, Arkansas has won a super regional and also gotten a victory over the Texas Longhorns in softball with a 7-1 in Game 1.
The Razorbacks were 0-6 against the Longhorns coming into Thursday night.
However, after a back-and-forth pitching duel between Arkansas's Chanise Delce and Texas's Hailey Dolcini where both pitchers dotted the base pads with potential scores only to battle back through four innings, the Razorbacks did what they've done all season – string together hits for big innings late.
"Huge team win," Hogs coach Courtney Deifel said later. "It's always a good feeling to win the first one."
Arkansas Razorback football coach Sam Pittman calls the Hogs at Game 1 of the NCAA softball super regional between Arkansas and Texas at Bogle Park.
Arkansas had put pressure on each inning, but couldn't push a run across. Meanwhile, Texas had failed to get a hit with a runner on base.
However, an intentional walk of Janae Jefferson with one out in the top of 5th loaded the bases, but Texas couldn't capitalize. Delce struck out the next hitter and got Bella Dayton to ground out to second to get out of the inning without giving up a run.
Arkansas pitcher Chanise Delce battled throughout the game as Texas sprinkled runners throughout the game and even loaded the bases in the fifth. Delce went the distance, striking out six while giving up six hits in the win.
Feeling an immediate shift in momentum, the Razorbaks went to work.
Hannah McEwen line a hard shot off the wall to open the inning. When Dolcini intentionally walked Danielle Gibson to get to Hannah Gammill, she made the Longhorns pay with a hard grounder through the gap in left to drive in McEwen for the first run of the game.
The Razorbacks' Lennie Malkin then blooped a pitch to shallow center field to load the bases with one out. Hoffman then followed with an uncharacteristically weak roller to first that Longhorns' Katie Cimusz threw to home that was missed by Mary Iakopo, allowing two runs to score to make it 3-0, leading to Dolcini being pulled.
The lead was more than enough, but Arkansas set its sights on ending the game early in the sixth.
McEwen beat out a throw for an infield hit to lead off the 6th. Then Taylor Ellsworth, a former Longhorn, dropped a bloop single into shallow center.
Arkansas third baseman Hannah Gammill rips a single to center field in the second inning. Gammill drove in the first run of the game with a single in the 5th to score Hannah McEwan.
Gibson then hit a shot deep to the warning track to move McEwen to third. Gammill kept things rolling by stretching out wide to poke a line shot to right to drive in McEwen for a 4-0 lead.
Malkin then ripped a laser down the left field line to drive in Cally Kildow from second to extend the lead to 5-0. Hoffman, a powerful hitter, then came to the plate with a chance to end the game on a run rule.
However, instead of a deep home run shot like the pair she hit against Oregon, Hoffman hits a high chopper, causing the throw to be rushed by third baseman Mia Scott on the charge. The throw sailed wide, leading to two more Arkansas runs, allowing Delce to relax and close out the game in the seventh.
Arkansas narrowly avoided a big inning by Texas in the second. With a runner on, right fielder Kacie Hoffman came up with a huge out.
Cimusz crushed a ball deep over Hoffman's head. Hoffman back-pedaled playing the ball over her left shoulder, then, as the ball drifted, switched while in a full sprint to tracking the ball over her right shoulder where she snagged the ball fully extended as the right field wall closed in on her.
Then, with a runner on third, Delce went to a full count against Lauren Burke. Burke then proceeded to foul off the next six pitches as Delce patiently worked the lower part of the strike zone before finally getting Burke looking to end the inning.
Arkansas and Texas will face on in Game 2 Friday at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN. If needed, a third game will be played on Saturday.
And the Hogs will be coming into it fairly relaxed if they can keep the mindset after an opening-game win.
"It's just another game," Gammill said Thursday night.
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