FAYETTEVILLE — No. 4 Arkansas fell to No. 18 Texas 3-1 on Saturday at Bogle Park in the finals of the Fayetteville Super Regional.
The Razorbacks had won the opener 7-1 on Thursday night before dropping Game 2 3-1. Obviously Courtney Deifel and the players were extremely down after the game Saturday. A dream season turned sour at the wrong time.
However, don’t confuse a bad, disappointing or whatever word you want to use to describe the ending with a not-so-good season. The entire 2022 Arkansas softball team reminded me so much of the 2021 baseball squad the Razorbacks had. Both saw their seasons end one game short of heading to the big show in Oklahoma City for softball and Omaha, Neb., for baseball.
Dave Van Horn’s Razorbacks beat North Carolina State 21-2 in the first game of the Fayetteville Super Regional and appeared to be ready to cruise to Omaha. However, NC State had a different idea. They bounced back to beat the Hogs 6-5 and 3-2 to advance to the College World Series.
This softball team ended 48-11 while that baseball team was 50-13. Both went through the SEC regular season without losing a single series. Both won the SEC Tournament. Both won the Fayetteville Regional.
Many of those things are the first time it has happened for the Arkansas program in both sports. There’s a reason it doesn’t happen very often at any school. Because it’s a very, very difficult thing to accomplish.
Name the sport, the SEC is the best there is. For Deifel and Van Horn to put together such seasons is an accomplishment to be proud of. Sure the ending stings because the coaches and their players are competitors and they know a chance for an even better season slipped away from them.
But that happens. Texas Coach Mike White knew his squad just defeated a very good Arkansas team.
“Commiserations to Arkansas,” White said. “They had one heck of a year, winning the SEC championship and the regular season. It’s one heck of a feat. Hopefully, we can renew this rivalry going when we get into the SEC in . It should be fun.”
Deifel thanked the seniors for taking a chance on her and Arkansas. I am sure all the seniors as well as the underclassmen feel the same way about Deifel.
“They took a chance on us and they’ve built this,” Deifel said. “And I think that when you’re out there and you see the 3,000-plus doing the Hog call, they did that. I know that I just felt really, really lucky that I got to coach them. I’m really fortunate that they chose us, and they’ve left us in a really good spot.”
Deifel is building a great softball program at Arkansas and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. The Razorbacks currently has the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the nation coming in this fall.
But, in time, when the Arkansas fans, Deifel and the players look back on this 2022 season the tears from Saturday will disappear and be replaced with a sense of knowing this team accomplished more than any softball team in school history. That is a great season with just the wrong ending.