During its home-opening softball doubleheader with No. 19 Arizona at Bogle Park in Thursday, No. 8 Arkansas experienced both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. 

Hannah Gammill’s seventh-inning RBI walk off single made a winner of fellow preseason All-American Chenise Delce, who pitched a complete game while fanning 12 in the Razorbacks’ 3-2 victory over the Wildcats in the opener.

That came after the Wildcats (8-4) had tied it with two-run homer by losing pitcher Devyn Netz.

“I think that is who Arkansas is,” Gammill said. “I think we don’t allow an at bat or a run to get the best of us.”

Arkansas (9-3) jumped to same 2-0 lead in the nightcap as it did in the first game, but Arizona rallied for a 5-2 victory to earn a split.

“Overall, I am glad we won the first one,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said. “We knew we were going to have a big challenge with Arizona and that’s why we asked them to come here.

“I thought we showed a lot of composure in game one even when they got the two-run home run. I thought we responded really well with the walk off and stringing that (rally) together.

“I thought we were terrible in the second game. I just think that we weren’t really competitive. It’s not taking anything aware from Arizona. They played better than us. They made adjustment. They just competed better than we did.”

The games were part of the Razorback Invitational, which will three Friday games with Drake and Arizona playing at 11, Drake and Arkansas at 1:30 and Arkansas and Arizona in a 4 p.m. contest.

“I’m hooping our team responds tomorrow,” Deifel said, “…That’s the nice thing about this is you play a lot of games and take the field again in like 12 hours.”

It looked for the longest that Spencer Piggie’s two-out, two-run single in the second inning of the opener  that scored Gammill and Cylie Halvorson might stand up as the runs.

Delce pitched a no-hitter into the fifth inning and took a 2-0 lead top the top of the seventh.

Carlie Scupin led off the seventh with a double and then Netz launched a two-run blast to score pinch runner Tayler Biehl tie it.

Delce (4-1) allowed just four hits while Arkansas backed her with six.

“She (Delce) was just excellent today, really, really great,” Deifel said. “I think she missed one pitch and she (Netz) put it up on the berm. That’s the nature of baseball or softball, especially with the pitch that she throws.

“I thought she just showed a lot of heart for us, set a really great tone and had her stuff working really well.”

Arkansas’ game-winning rally started when Reagan Johnson fanned, but reached first base on a wild pitch.

She moved up on Kristina Foreman’s sacrifice bunt before Rylin Hedgecock walked and Kacie Hoffman’s groundout moved the runners.

Gammill caught a break when her line in foul territory went off Paige Dimler’s glove.

With a second chance, Gammill drilled a shot up the right center field gap to win it.

“That was a big moment for her,” Deifel said. “I don’t know that the start of the year has gone how she wanted it to. She was sick all night last night. It took a lot of guts in that moment. She came through for us. That’s what she does. She’s a big-time player that comes through in big-time moments.”

In game two, Arkansas took a two run lead in the third when Johnson singled, Gammill walked, Cylie Halvorson’s single plated Johnson and Foreman’s fielder’s choice plated the other run.

That lead didn’t last long as Netz crushed a three-run blast in the fourth off Arkansas starter Robyn Herron (3-1) and the Wildcats added an unearned run for a 4-2 lead.

Arizona added a fifth run in the sixth against reliever Callie Turner.

Photo by John D. James