Arkansas transfer downs Razorbacks with walk-off HR at NCAA regional

By: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Staff and Wire Reports
Published: Friday, May 19, 2017
Tulsa's Haley Meinen runs the bases after hitting a game-winning home run in the seventh inning of an NCAA regional game against Arkansas on Friday, May 19, 2017, in Norman, Okla. (Hugh Scott/Tulsa World)
Tulsa's Haley Meinen runs the bases after hitting a game-winning home run in the seventh inning of an NCAA regional game against Arkansas on Friday, May 19, 2017, in Norman, Okla. (Hugh Scott/Tulsa World)

NORMAN, Okla. — Haley Meinen stuck it to her ex-teammates with one big swing on Friday.

Meinen hit an opposite-field home run on the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh inning to send No. 23 Tulsa to a 5-4 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Friday in the first game of the NCAA Norman (Okla.) Regional at Marita Hynes Field.

The walk-off home run against Razorbacks freshman Caroline Hedgcock (3-5) was Meinen's second of the season. Meinen, of Fort Bend, Texas, pitched in 20 games for the 2015 Razorbacks and hit .364 in limited duty before siting out the 2016 season at Tulsa as a transfer.

“I was just swinging if it was in the zone,” Meinen told the Norman Transcript. “We played them at their place and I had seen her already in that game. So, I was ready for whatever she had to throw at me.”

Tulsa (40-15) advanced to today's 1:30 p.m. winner's bracket game against either Oklahoma or North Dakota State. A scheduled game between the Sooners and Bison on Friday was suspended until Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

North Dakota State led Oklahoma 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning when the game was suspended because of rain.

Arkansas (31-23) will face the loser of the Oklahoma-North Dakota State game in an elimination game Saturday at 8 p.m.

“That’s a postseason game for you,” Arkansas coach Courtney Deifel said. “It was a battle and both teams kept throwing punches and, unfortunately, they got the last punch. I liked how our team fought during the game but I felt like we had a few innings where we gave up too much and they capitalized on our mistakes. They did what Tulsa does, and they put pressure on our defense and scored some big runs that way."

Arkansas forged a 4-4 tie on the first pitch in the top of the seventh against Emily Watson (29-4) on Katie Warrick's home run, her 6th.

The Razorbacks seized a 3-0 lead in the top of the second inning with the help of more long ball.

Nicole Schroeder hit a solo home run on the first pitch of the inning, her school-record 17th of the season, and the Razorbacks were not done.

After Madison Yannetti walked and Ashley Diaz walked on a 3-2 count, Autumn Russell delivered a two-out triple to right-center field to bring in two more runs.

The Golden Hurricane got busy in the bottom of the frame, touching Arkansas starter Autumn Storms for two runs.

Morgan Neal started the rally with a one-out double, then Rylie Spell reached on an error by shortstop A.J. Belans. Both runners advanced on a passed ball before Shannon Hughes struck with a triple to center field.

Arkansas' 3-2 lead held until the fifth inning. Julia Hollingsworth opened Tulsa's fifth by reaching on an error by the second baseman Yannetti. After Maggie Withee's single, Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel called on Hedgcock and the Golden Hurricane turned to small ball.

After Tori Stafford's sacrifice bunt moved up the runners, Meinen hit a ball to second base and Hollingsworth beat the throw to the plate for a 3-3 tie on an unearned run. Maddie Withee put down a successful squeeze bunt on the next pitch to score her sister from third base as Tulsa moved ahead 4-3.

Watson pitched a complete-game 6-hitter, striking out 4 and walking 3.

Arkansas increased its SEC-best home run count to 59.

Tulsa, which has won two of three games against Arkansas this season, leads the all-time series 18-14.

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.