Arkansas softball goes 2-0 at Razorback Rumble

Arkansas pitcher Morgan Leinstock (7) delivers to the plate, Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, against Wichita State in Fayetteville. (Hank Layton/NWA Democrat-Gazette)

FAYETTEVILLE — The No. 20 Arkansas softball team broke out the big bats and hammered Northern Iowa 7-4 in the Razorback Rumble at Bogle Park on Saturday.

The win continued Arkansas' streak of not losing consecutive games. On Friday the Razorbacks lost a 2-1 game against South Alabama, then had their second game against Saint Francis canceled after three innings.

Arkansas made it a sweep with a 10-4 win against South Alabama in the nightcap, avenging its loss on Friday.

“I really loved our presence today,” Arkansas coach Courtney Deifel said. “I thought we had really great at-bats and were competitive. We got a lot of freebies...just a complete day.”

Morgan Leinstock (5-0) was dominant in the circle for Arkansas (19-5) other than a shaky third inning when a terrific defensive play prevented a potential big inning for Northern Iowa (11-8). Leinstock scattered 6 hits over 6 innings and struck out 9.

“Morgan doesn't necessarily go for strikeouts, but that was just the kind of day she had,” Deifel said. “She's one who actually uses her defense a little bit more, but things kind of fell in her favor today.”

The Razorbacks worked over Northern Iowa starter Kara Maiers for 7 hits and 7 runs in 3 innings, including home runs from Raigan Kramer and Bri Ellis in the bottom of the fourth inning to blow the game open. The homer was Ellis' team-leading seventh of the season, and it was Kramer's first.

Arkansas scored 4 runs in the bottom of the third inning when it sent 9 batters to the plate and belted 4 hits, highlighted by a 2-run double from Rylin Hedgecock to shallow center field to take a 5-1 lead. 

Northern Iowa cut into Arkansas' lead in the top of the seventh off reliever Nikki McGaffin. A lead-off walk and single put runners on and Alexis Pupillo cleared the bases with a three-run homer to straightaway center, cutting the Razorbacks' lead to 7-4. 

Ending the day

Hannah Camenzind earned her first complete-game win as Arkansas routed South Alabama 10-4 in Saturday's late game.

The Razorbacks put it away early with seven runs in the first inning, including a bases-clearing triple from Hedgecock and a two-run homer from Raigan Kramer.

That was all the run support Camenzind (5-0) needed. The left-hander gave up a three-run homer to Gracie Tentinger in the second, but Camenzind was in control the rest of the way.

Bri Ellis was 3 for 4 with 3 RBI and Nia Carter was 2 for 3 with a double.

“This game is all about how you respond,” Deifel said. “I thought that their response was huge. We challenged them with what their approach was going to be like. I thought they really answered that well today. 

“When you are starting to think about getting into SEC, it's all about how resilient you are going to be and how you are going to respond and trying to figure out how you'll play teams multiple times.”

Play of Game 1

Northern Iowa threatened in the top of the fourth with two on as Kate Lappe and Savanna Jamilo got aboard on singles. With two outs, Daryn Lamprecht hit a smash to left for a double. 

Kramer, the Arkansas left fielder, fielded the ball off the wall and fired to shortstop Atalyia Rijo, who whipped a strike home to Kennedy who put the tag on Jamilo for the final out of the inning.

Kramer came up in the bottom of the fourth and launched a solo home run to right for a 6-1 lead. It was her first home of the season.

No-No no more

Northern Iowa beat Saint Francis 6-4 in Saturday's third game, but for a while if looked like the Panthers might not score at all. 

Northern Iowa's Samantha Heyer had a no-hitter through 5 2/3 innings before giving up a two-run home run in the sixth inning to Olivia Ulam.

Saint Francis added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh and had runners in scoring position before a ground-out ended the game. 

Other games

Saturday's full slate of games started early with Saint Francis claiming a 6-3 win against Nebraska in eight innings. 

The game was tied 2-2 after seven innings. Saint Francis scored four runs in the top of the eighth. The Panthers belted three one-out hits including a bases-lcearing double by Aliya Garroway to go ahead 5-2.

Nebraska rebounded with a 5-1 win against South Alabama. Sydney Gray belted a double and two home runs to lead the Cornhuskers.

Up next

Arkansas will close the Razorback Rumble with a 12:15 p.m. game Sunday against Northern Iowa. The game will culminate a 16-game, three-week homestand for the Razorbacks.

Arkansas will open SEC play next weekend at Auburn.