BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
With two big swings Saturday night against Georgia, the Arkansa duo of Hannah Gammill and Cylie Halvorson sent the second largest crowd in Razorback softball history home happy for Easter.
Gammill’s sixth-inning solo homer deadlocked a game Arkansas once trailed 3-0 and then Halvorson delivered a walk off blast for a 4-3 victory before 3,260 fans at Bogle Park.
The rally salvaged a game for the fourth-place Razorbacks (28-11, 9-6) in the three game series with SEC-leading Georgia (31-8, 11-3), who had done the same thing Thursday night to the home team.
“It feels a lot better on this side of it, I can tell you that,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said. “It literally felt like the reverse of the game on Thursday where they had a lot of the momentum and it just kind of turned a little bit and we never really gave it up again.
“So I am just really proud of this group became that Thursday night game just kind of crushed us. And then even to respond after yesterday (a 4-0 loss), they just continue to show a lot of character.
“Even at the start of the game, they could have easily folded it in, btut they kept fighting and found away because Georgia is a really good team. Really, really good.”
Halvorson, who previous played at South Dakota State, said it was her first collegiate walk off home run and her only other walk off hit was a run rule single at her previous stop.
“The reaction was awesome and I was just doing whatever I could to help the team,” Halvorson said. “We were tied…so I wanted to get and do something for the team and better than I had in my prior at bats.”
It was her sixth home run this season and the 46th of her college career.
“I had a plan going into it and she me exactly what I was looking for and I just attacked it…She threw it twice to me mu prior at bat and I took them so I knew she was going to comes with it at some point and that’s what she did.”
“I was just really happy for her and it was such a big moment to step for your team,” Deifel said. “Her coming home to the plate after that had to be one of the best feelings ever. It was pretty cool.”
Halvorson got the chance to end the game because Gammill’s fourth blast of the season left the yard in the sixth.
The preseason All-American has been struggling at the plate.
“Oh, my gosh, I don’t know what her vertical was before she got to first,” Deifel said. “…Just joy and I think what we saw was an exhale and it was just a really big moment for Hannah and to get that hit for her team.”
Georgia looked poised to retake the lead after Gammill’s sixth inning blast tied it as the Bulldogs and runners at first and third with no one out in the top of the seventh.
But Arkansas pitcher Chinese Delce (15-5), who took the heartbreaking loss on Thursday night, got out of the frame unscathed as she put up a fourth straight scoreless inning.
“It was really important,” Halvorson said. “We just wanted it for our pride really. I think all three games were really close with both being great teams but it didn’t go our way.
‘But in this game, people came up clutch. Hannah did an awesome job in her at bat and defense was solid.”
Arkansas got within 3-2 on Reagan Johnson’s two-run single in the fourth inning
Arkansas returns to action Tuesday night in Conway when it faces UCA, which beat the Razorbacks 2-1 on March 6 in Fayetteville.
Photo by John D. James