Paul Boyd is a sports reporter for the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He was voted Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2018.
Arkansas softball rallies past SEMO
Arkansas' Braxton Burnside (center) is congratulated after hitting a home run during a game against Southeast Missouri State on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021, in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE — The No. 24 University of Arkansas softball team supplied some late thunder to rally for a 6-3 win over Southeast Missouri State on Saturday at Bogle Park.
The Razorbacks (10-2) claimed their ninth consecutive victory, scoring three runs in the bottom of the sixth after two were out to snap a 3-3 tie.
Leadoff hitter Hannah McEwen lined an RBI double into the left-center field gap to give Arkansas a 4-3 lead in the sixth. Shortstop Braxton Burnside followed with her sixth home run of the season on a drive that just got over the fence near the left-field line to push the lead to three.
Autumn Storms (2-0) retired the Redhawks (2-6) in order in the seventh to notch her first complete game of the season. She allowed 3 runs on 3 hits, struck out 7 and did not walk a batter.
The Razorbacks rallied late thanks to a pair of two-out hits, but Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel pointed to a pair of walks by senior Keely Huffine as keys to the win. She drew a bases-loaded walk to score a run in the second inning, then worked another one on a 3-2 pitch to set the stage for the runs in the sixth.
“Those two walks, although they’re not glamorous, were the big difference-makers in our night tonight,” Deifel said. “She really grinded those at-bats. She’s been huge for us … and that was exactly what we needed at that time.
“The double in the gap is really glamorous. I was telling the team afterward, ‘I’ll take that every time.’ But if Keely doesn’t grind in that moment, she doesn’t set the stage for Hannah.” Storms found herself trailing 3-2 after SEMO hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the fourth inning. She and the Razorbacks were forced to think about that for more than 90 minutes when the game was halted because of rain and lightning.
It didn’t bother Storms.
“This game I just told myself, ‘It’s a new inning. It’s a new batter. Just wipe the slate clean. You’re fine,’ ” she said. “My team had my back tonight. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to go out in with the mindset.” Storms came back after the delay to retire nine of the 10 batters she faced. She gave up only a one-out single in the sixth.
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