BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Down to it’s last at-bat on Sunday and trailing by a run, the Arkansas softball team refused to leave Starkville without breaking out its broom.
Reagan Johnson tripled leading off the seventh and Raigan Kramer followed with her fifth home run of the season to rally the No. 10 Razorbacks to a 5-4 win over Mississippi State at Nusz Park.
Arkansas (27-9, 8-4) then turned the bottom of the seventh over to ace Chenise Delce, who delivered the final three outs for here second save and a sweep of three-game weekend series.
“I thought our team showed a lot of fight and grit this weekend,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said. “We responded well when things didn’t go our way. I’m proud of how we fought today.
“Reagan Johnson had a huge moment with a leadoff triple in the top of the seventh. Raigan Kramer came through with a clutch hit to put us back on top. The team decided they wanted to win today.”
The late heroics were needed after Matalasi Faapitio delivered a two-out, two-run homer that gave the Bulldogs (23-13, 3-5) their first lead of the weekend.
Her clutch blast was off Arkansas reliever Hannah Camenzind and immediately after Camenzind (2-1) committed a throwing error that allowed Nardia Barbary reach with two outs.
It was Camenzind’s second win in as many days as she pitched five-inning complete game shout in Arkansas’ 11-0 victory on Saturday that extended the Razorbacks’ road series winning streak to 10.
“Every single time I go up to bat, obviously I want to hit a home run, but I just knew watching her pitch to me yesterday, I was like I need to get this girl,” Faapito said. “I’m just glad the outcome was what I wanted.”
That roundtripper came after Aquana Brownlee’s two-run homer in the fourth off Razorback starter Callie Turner that cut Arkansas’ lead to 3-2.
The Razorbacks jumped to a 3-0 with a trio of unearned runs in the fourth on singles by Kristina Foreman and Johnson along with two errors and an RBI sacrifice bunt by Atalyia Rijo.
“That’s what happens when you play a top-10 team, Mississippi State head coach Samantha Ricketts said. “They are going to capitalize on mistakes, and we have to clean it up all the way around.
“I was glad to see some fight out of the lineup. I thought, offensively, that’s kind of what we’ve been looking for the last few weeks. I think there are some bright spots, but when you’re playing a top-10 team like that you can’t make mistakes. Anywhere really in their lineup, they’re gonna make you pay, we just made a couple too many.”
Arkansas will return to action Thursday night at 6 p.m. when it hosts No. 10 Georgia at Bogle Park in the opener of a three-games series.
Georgia went into Sunday’s game with Kentucky with a 28-6 record overall and a league-leading 8-1 mark in SEC action.
Georgia and Kentucky play again on Monday at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network.
Photo courtesy of the University of Arkansas