UA finally finds way vs. Wichita State pitcher

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, May 20, 2018
Arkansas second baseman Haydi Bugarin (top) collides with Wichita State third baseman Mackenzie Wright Saturday, May 19, 2018, as Wright comes in safely at the bag during the third inning at Bogle Park during the NCAA Fayetteville Softball Regional on the university campus in Fayetteville.
Photo by Andy Shupe
Arkansas second baseman Haydi Bugarin (top) collides with Wichita State third baseman Mackenzie Wright Saturday, May 19, 2018, as Wright comes in safely at the bag during the third inning at Bogle Park during the NCAA Fayetteville Softball Regional on the university campus in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- It took 11 innings over two games, but the Arkansas Razorbacks finally got to Wichita State pitcher Bailey Lange.

When the Razorbacks did break through against the junior left-hander, it was in a big way.

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The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville scored two runs in the fifth inning and two in the seventh off Lange to beat Wichita State 5-0 Saturday at Bogle Park before an announced crowd of 2,011 in an NCAA regional matchup.

Arkansas (41-15) advances to the regional championship game at 1:30 p.m. today against Wichita State, which defeated Oklahoma State 5-4 in Saturday's late elimination game.

If the Razorbacks lose today, they'll play a winner-take-all game at 6:30 p.m.

"It feels amazing," said Razorbacks freshman pitcher Mary Haff, who threw a one-hit shutout against Wichita State. "Now we're so close to that super regional. But we've got to take one game at a time."

Lange went the distance in shutting out Arkansas 1-0 when the teams played at Wichita, Kan., on March 6, and she held the Razorbacks scoreless through the first four innings Saturday.

Then Arkansas -- the visiting team because it was the home team in Friday's 2-0 victory over DePaul -- took a 2-0 lead with two runs in the top of the fifth inning.

Senior shortstop A.J. Belans led off by hitting a home run over the left-field fence on a 2-1 pitch from Lange.

"I was looking for a ball to drive," Belans said. "I got one that was a little bit high in the zone and pretty much did my job."

Haff (28-6) said it was a relief when Belans gave the Razorbacks the lead.

"The whole team took a deep breath after that because we got one run on the board," Haff said. "We kind of relaxed and got more into our at-bats as the game went on."

Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel said that with the way Haff was pitching, getting ahead was a huge momentum swing for the Razorbacks.

"When you start to feel a pitcher like Mary settle in, you know that one run could be a difference-maker on the day," Deifel said. "So when A.J. hit that out, I think it gave our team a ton of confidence."

The Shockers could sense the shift in the Razorbacks' favor, too.

"Once they hit that home run, you could kind of feel their energy swarm us," Wichita State center fielder Asea Webber said. "It was hard to get that energy back on our side."

Loren Krzysko followed Belans' home run with a triple off the right-field wall. She was thrown out at home trying to score on a groundball by Tori Cooper, but the Razorbacks loaded the bases when Kayla Green walked and Haydi Bugarin reached on an error. Cooper scored on a groundout by Hannah McEwen.

Arkansas added three runs in the seventh inning, including a two-run single by senior third baseman Autumn Buczek off Bailey Klitzke, who came in to pitch for the Shockers after Lange hit Green leading off and walked Bugarin.

Lange went 6 innings and allowed 5 hits, 4 runs and 2 walks without a strikeout.

"I think they just adjusted and realized what I was going to start with pitching," Lange said. "My changeup wasn't as good as it was the first time we played them.

"The fans affected me more than anything. I think it's probably the most people I've ever played in front of."

Shockers Coach Kristi Bredbenner said the Razorbacks did a good job of swinging at Lange's pitches earlier in the count.

"They kept their hands up and got into some of her rise balls that just weren't jumping as much," Bredbenner said. "Her changeup wasn't working real great, which at the end of the day makes all of her other pitches basically the same speed and a little bit easier to make that adjustment on."

Belans said the Razorbacks made some good contact against Lange in the teams' regular-season game, but they didn't have balls go for hits.

"This time we kind of stayed the course and eventually balls started falling our way," Belans said. "I had one hit, and it kind of kept going from there."

Wichita State's only hit against Haff came on a single by Webber in the fourth inning.

"I'm just proud of how our team competed today," Deifel said. "I thought it was one of our most composed games from start to end.

"Early on our offense looked good. The hits just weren't falling, and we did a really good job of staying the course and staying composed and not getting beside ourselves, and the game kind of came back to us.

"Mary did an incredible job in the circle of giving us time to get comfortable. It was a great team win."

FAYETTEVILLE REGIONAL SCHEDULE

Friday's games

Arkansas 2, DePaul 0

Wichita State 8, Oklahoma State 2

Saturday's games

Arkansas 5, Wichita State 0

GAME 4 Oklahoma State 6, DePaul 0 (DePaul eliminated)

GAME 5 Wichita State 5, Oklahoma State 4 (Oklahoma State eliminated)

Today's games

All times Central

GAME 6 Arkansas (41-15) vs Wichita State (32-22)

GAME 7 Winner Game 6 vs loser Game 6 (if nec.), 4 p.m.

Sports on 05/20/2018

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