Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year twice.
Back, back, back, back: UA softball player hits for home-run cycle
Arkansas’ Danielle Gibson became the sixth NCAA Division I softball player to hit four home runs in a game when she accomplished the feat against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday.
FAYETTEVILLE -- University of Arkansas first baseman Danielle Gibson couldn't stop hitting home runs Saturday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at Bogle Park.
Gibson, who bats left-handed, started with a two-run home run in the first inning. She added a three-run home run in the second inning. Then she hit a grand slam in the third inning.
"When I got to three home runs, I was like, 'This is crazy. I've hit my max,' " Gibson said. "But I just kind of stayed within myself and hit another."
Gibson hit a fourth home run -- a solo shot --in the fourth inning after Aly Manzo scored on a wild pitch.
"When Aly scored, I thought, 'This is the perfect time to hit for the home-run cycle,' " Gibson said. "I was like, 'You know what? Let's just go for it.' So I went out swinging."
Gibson, a sophomore from Murrieta, Calif., who transferred from Arizona State to Arkansas, tied the NCAA Division I record with four home runs in a game. She's the sixth softball player to do it and the first for an SEC team.
"People ask me, 'How did you do it?' " Gibson said. "I just hit the ball hard and it went where it went. But it was pretty unreal."
Gibson didn't get a chance to hit a fifth home run because the game was stopped after 4½ innings with Arkansas leading 15-3 under the 10-run mercy rule.
"I don't know if I can ever top that game," Gibson said with a laugh. "Well see."
Gibson is the second player to hit for a home-run cycle -- Georgetown's Allie Anttila did it first against Rutgers in 2013 -- but she's the first to do it in four innings. Anttila did it in seven innings.
"It's a pretty incredible accomplishment," Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel said of Gibson's home-run cycle. "It was really cool to see her do it here at Bogle. But it's also great for her teammates that were on base and giving up the opportunity to drive those runs in."
Don't blame SIU-Edwardsville for continuing to throw Gibson strikes.
"I watched the tape, and three of the pitches I hit home runs were actually balls," she said. "I just decided to swing. Two were up at my eyes and one was low and outside.
"I usually try to hit strikes, but it just happened."
Gibson hit 12 home runs last season for Arizona State, including her previous personal best of two in a game against Minnesota. She is batting .396 with 21 RBI for the Razorbacks (12-3), but she hit just one home run in her first 13 games this season.
Deifel said no player can be expected to hit four home runs in game, but she wasn't surprised by Gibson's power display against SIU-Edwardsville.
"That's just Gibby being Gibby," Deifel said. "I expect her to have really good at-bats, and when she's seeing the ball well, she has the ability to put it out.
"You watch her on a daily basis, and she can put on an offensive show. She just has incredible power and hand-eye coordination. She just really knows who she is as a hitter."
Gibson batted .343 as a stater at Arizona State last season and helped the Sun Devils advance to the College World Series, but she decided before this season to put her name in the transfer portal.
"It wasn't a very family-oriented program, not as much as I thought it was going to be," Gibson said of Arizona State. "As well as I did last year, that really didn't matter to me. I wanted to be somewhere I was going to be happy and have lifelong best friends and love to come to practice every day.
"I'm so happy I made the decision to come here. I couldn't have picked a better school."
Gibson was reunited with several Arkansas players who were teammates on California travel teams, including catcher Kayla Green, pitcher Autumn Storms, and outfielders Sam Torres and Larissa Cesena.
"It was like having a reunion of my 12-and-under team coming here," she said. "But I didn't make my decision because of anyone else. I didn't let my parents tell me what to do. There were no outside influences. It was just me and what I felt. I knew I was supposed to be here."
Green said she called Gibson and encouraged her to come to Arkansas.
"Me and Gibby go a long ways back," Green said. "So it's fun to see her here and succeeding the way she is.
"We've grown up together. I've played with her, and I've played against her. I'm glad she's on my team."
When Deifel saw Gibson was transferring, she sent an email. Gibson texted a reply and within two days was in Fayetteville for an official visit.
Gibson said she was going to take other trips to Oklahoma, LSU, Georgia and Oregon, but she canceled those plans after her Arkansas visit.
"I came here, met Coach Deifel and that was it," she said. "I decided this is it. This is home."
Gibson, 6-0, at first glance doesn't have the appearance of a home run hitter, but said she generates her power from rotating her hips. She pulled her first two home runs against SIU-Edwardsville over the right-field fence, hit her grand slam to center field, then her fourth home run to left-center.
Green said Gibson always has hit for power.
"Just because she's not a buff, 250-pound man doesn't mean she can't jack four out of the yard," Green said. "She's strong."
Sports on 02/25/2019
NCAA RECORD MOST HOME RUNS IN A SOFTBALL GAME
Arkansas’ Danielle Gibson became the sixth NCAA Division I softball player to hit four home runs in a game when she accomplished the feat against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Saturday. Here is a look at who shares the record:
4;Jill Iacono;Canisius; vs. Saint Francis (Pa.);April 5, 2002
4;Rebecca Magett;Hampton; vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore;April 2, 2010
4;Allie Anttila;Georgetown; vs. Rutgers;April 6, 2013
4;Carli Kayler;Troy;vs. Appalachian State;March 19, 2016;
4;Sydney O’Hara;Syracuse; vs. North Carolina State;March 10, 2017
4;Danielle Gibson;Arkansas;vs. SIU-Edwardsville;Feb. 23, 2019
SOURCE NCAA record book
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