Ethan Westerman is a reporter for the Hawgs Sports Network. He is a double graduate of the University of Arkansas.
Florida beats Arkansas to even series
Arkansas starter Robyn Herron delivers a pitch Thursday, March 2, 2023, during the second inning of the Razorbacks’ 4-0 win over Iowa State at Bogle Park in Fayetteville. Herron threw a one-hit shutout in the win.
FAYETTEVILLE — The second-largest crowd in Bogle Park history was treated to a tight game through five innings, but Florida used a six-run sixth inning to blow past the University of Arkansas softball team 11-4 on Saturday night and tie the best-of-three-game series.
An announced crowd of 3,220 poured into the ballpark, packing the outfield berm just minutes after the gates opened. The attendance was 228 spectators shy of setting a new Bogle Park record.
Unfortunately for the home faithful, Arkansas (23-9, 4-4 SEC) couldn’t get out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning, and Florida made the Razorbacks pay. The Gators strung together six runs, all unearned.
“I thought we battled really well and obviously the difference-maker was the sixth [inning], just giving way too much away,” Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel said. “We don’t make the play at third, and that’s where you really want to see someone step in and take charge, and we didn’t. We gave away a lot of free passes, and free passes have been our kryptonite.”
Florida (24-6, 3-2) was ahead 5-4 entering the sixth inning and was helped by an Arkansas error, two hit batters, a wild pitch and two walks to score six runs and blow the game open.
“You have to control your emotions, more than anything,” Deifel said. “I think that’s a lesson that hopefully our freshman pitchers learned tonight, is that when you get to [Florida shortstop] Skylar Wallace, she’s not going to swing at a pitch that’s [barely] off the plate. She has a really good understanding of her zone, and the Florida hitters always do. So unfortunately we missed big and they made us pay.”
The Gators grabbed a lead just one out into the game when 3-hole hitter Charla Echols hit a two-run home run into dead center, her seventh on the season.
It didn’t take long for the Razorbacks to bring the score even again, coming through with some clutch two-out hitting in the bottom of the first inning. First baseman Cylie Halvorson roped a full-count single to left field, scoring Reagan Johnson and Raigan Kramer to tie the game at 2-2.
Arkansas snatched its only lead of the game in the second inning when Florida right-handed pitcher Lexie Delbrey hit Rylin Hedgecock on the elbow with the bases loaded, putting the Razorbacks up 3-2.
Freshman left-handed pitcher Robyn Herron worked 3 1/3 innings for the Razorbacks but was chased in the fourth inning when Sarah Longley lifted a deep three-run homer to center field. It put Florida back ahead 5-3 and sent Deifel to the bullpen to replace Herron with Hannah Camenzind.
Camenzind got the Razorbacks out of the inning with no further damage, then Arkansas got a run back in the bottom of the fourth. Johnson reached on a bunt single to lead off the inning and took second off a wild pitch. Then Kramer brought her home with an RBI single and pull the Razorbacks within 5-4.
It was Arkansas’ final run of the game, as Florida responded with the big sixth inning to blow the game open.
Echols led the Gators with five RBI off two hits, while Rylee Trilicek came in relief of Delbrey and earned her eight win of the season.
“We have an incredible fan base, and so it’s really fun when you get here for the game and they’re lined up, ready, waiting to come in,” Deifel said. “So, it’s exciting. We’re really lucky.”
The third and deciding game of the series is set for noon today.
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