Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Razorbacks take series at Alabama behind Delce's 10-inning gem
Arkansas pitcher Chenise Delce delivers a pitch Friday, May 27, 2022, during the Razorbacks' 3-1 loss to Texas in the NCAA Fayetteville Super Regional at Bogle Park.
Right-hander Chenise Delce threw a 10-inning, 172-pitch complete game to lead ninth-ranked Arkansas to a 2-1 victory at 16th-ranked Alabama on Monday.
The Razorbacks (22-8, 3-3 SEC) won the best-of-three-game series 2-1. It was the program’s first series victory at Alabama (22-8, 1-2).
Rylin Hedgecock homered in the top of the 10th inning to put Arkansas ahead 2-1. It was Hedgecock’s team-leading 12th home run and 34th RBI.
Delce struck out Faith Hensley and Emma Broadfoot with the bases loaded to end the game. The Crimson Tide put three consecutive hitters on base in the 10th when Ashley Prange walked, and Ally Shipman and Larissa Preuitt each singled to load the bases.
“I thought this was a huge series to win, especially since it was our program’s first-ever series victory at Alabama,” Arkansas coach Courtney Deifel said. “We showed a ton of grit and character, and I couldn’t be more proud of how we fought. That’s a game where nobody deserves to lose.
“Chenise Delce was outstanding tonight. Our team showed a ton of resilience and had each other’s backs.”
Delce threw 38 pitches in the bottom of the 10th, which began with Alabama lead-off hitter Kenleigh Cahalan flying out to Regan Johnson against the wall in center field.
Delce also escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning when she hit Jenna Johnson and Kali Heivilin in consecutive two-out at-bats, but got nine-hole hitter Kristen White to fly out to right field.
Alabama coach Patrick Murphy was ejected in the top of the ninth inning for apparently arguing balls and strikes.
“The people that have been up in those late-game situations haven't had as many opportunities as maybe some of our other players,” Alabama assistant coach Alyson Habetz said. “In that last inning, we get three hits from our veterans back-to-back-to-back, and then maybe a younger player or someone who doesn't have as much experience in those pressure situations comes up.
“However, that experience alone is going to help us down the road because the more they're in those clutch situations now, even if they don't come through, they know what that pressure and anxiety feels like and it will definitely benefit them in the long run. Those young players just need more opportunities to do it.”
Delce, the 2022 SEC pitcher of the year, out-dueled Crimson Tide three-time All-American Montana Fouts (11-4). Alabama’s fifth-year right-hander allowed 2 runs, 7 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 11 during her 173-pitch complete game.
Delce allowed 1 run, 5 hits, 4 walks and struck out 8.
“I've never thrown 170-something pitches, so I was like, ‘I don't know if I can finish,’” Delce told SEC Network while recalling a mound visit in the 10th inning. “They were like, ‘You've got it. You're a fighter.’ I was like, ‘OK, I've got it.’”
Broadfoot homered to center field with two outs against Delce in the second inning to give Alabama a 1-0 lead. Arkansas tied the game in the fourth when Lauren Camenzind singled up the middle to score Cylie Halvorson.
The Razorbacks won the final two games of the series. Alabama’s 2-0 victory Saturday included a two-hit shutout by Fouts, and was Arkansas’ fourth consecutive loss.
Delce (11-4) pitched 18 innings during the series, including the final three innings to earn the win during Sunday’s 5-3 victory by the Razorbacks.
Arkansas is scheduled to host eighth-ranked Florida for three games beginning Friday at 6 p.m. at Bogle Park.
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