By DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Arkansas continued its banner softball opening weekend in Las Vegas with another pair of dominant wins Saturday in the Rebels Kickoff.
The Razorbacks (4-0) run-ruled Weber State 11-0 in their first game Saturday and then bashed Southern Utah 10-2 later in the day after falling behind for the first time in two days.
Arkansas has outscored its four foes 40-2 so far this weekend with a Sunday 11 a.m. game against Baylor left in the event at Eller Media Stadium.
“I’m really pleased with how the team has started,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said. “Collectively, we’re putting together great at-bats and putting a lot of pressure on opposing teams in the 22 innings we’ve played. We’ve scored in all but three innings over the last two days, which shows competing at a consistent level.”
The Razorbacks pitching has also been stellar with its five hurlers throwing three shutouts, allowing zero earned runs allowed and no more than three hits given up in any game so far.
“Our pitchers have set a great tone and our defense has done a tremendous job,” Deifel said. “We’re not perfect but we respond well. I’m happy with how we had to respond in game two.”
“I’m looking forward to our final game tomorrow. It’ll be a very tough game and I want to see us finish strong.”
Duke transfer Kristina Foreman hit her third homer of the season and Spencer Priggie pushed her RBI total to 10 in the victories.
“It has been an awesome opening weekend so far,” Foreman said. “ We had been scrimmaging each other all fall, so it has been nice to all be pulling on the same side of the rope.
“We have so much depth and every single spot in the line has the potential to change any game with one swing. We came out hot the last two days but we haven’t even scratched the surface on what Razorback Softball is.”
Foreman’s first-inning homer put Arkansas up 1-0 in the second game, but Southern Utah scored two unearned runs in the second to hand the Razorbacks their first deficit of the season.
Priggie took care of that with a three-run homer in the third that surged Arkansas ahead 4-2.
Hannah Gammill’s bases-loaded walk brought home a run in the fourth and Rylin Hedgecock’s two-run single in the fifth chased home Reagan Johnson and Foreman for a 7-2 advantage.
Arkansas will face Baylor before traveling to play five games next weekend in the TaxAct Invitational in Clearwater, Fla.
The home opener is set for Feb. 23 when the Razorbacks host Arizona in a 3 p.m. contest.
“We still have a lot to work on, but I am so excited to keep pushing forward as a team,” Foreman said. “We have Baylor up next and a big weekend in Clearwater coming up. We are just going to take it game by game, inning by inning, and pitch by pitch.”
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Pitcher Robyn Herron started the opening game and went three innings while allowing one hit while fanning five.
Nikki McGaffin relieved Herron and pitched two hitless innings to finish up while fanning one and walking one.
Hedgecock’s RBI double in the second got the scoring onslaught going against Weber State in the first game and Priggie drove her in with a single for a 2-0 lead.
Rijo’s RBI single, Halvorson’s two-run single and Hedgecock’s second double of the inning sent Arkansas ahead 7-0.
Hannah Gammill’s two-run homer, her first blast of the season, in the fourth gave Arkansas a 9-0 advantage.
Raigan Kramer’s RBI single later in the frame made it 10-0 and then pitcher Hannah Carmenzind pinch hit and hit a solo homer in the fifth to make it 11-0.
Carmenzind started the second game on the mound and went three innings, giving up two hits and two unearned runs, fanning one and walking one.
Callie Turner, the winning pitcher in Arkansas’ season opening 8-0 win over Weber State, followed Carmenzind with four scoreless innings with four strikeouts.
“Callie has been exceptional,” Diesel said. “She set a great tone in game one for not only that game but the season altogether. She looked even better today. She had a great demeanor and presence. She controls the game.”