BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
There’s an old adage that the hardest out to get in a softball or baseball game is the last one and that proved to be true for No. 9 Arkansas Thursday night at Bogle Park.
With her No. 8 Georgia team down to, junior Jayden Kearney lined a three-run homer off that skipped off the top of the right field fence to lift the Bulldogs to a 4-3 win.
The round-tripper came off Arkansas All-American starting pitcher Chenise Delce (14-5) and moved Georgia to 30-7 overall and 10-2 SEC action.
Arkansas (27-10, 8-5) led until Kearne’s heroics after jumping to a 2-0 lead on Cylie Halvorson’s first-inning home run and a 3-1 advantage on Kacie Hoffman’s RBI double in the third.
“I thought it was big,” Deifel said of getting ahead early. “When you can jump out and have a great top of the first and score, it is a huge tone setter and I think we had control of the whole game into that last pitch.
“But as we say ‘that’s softball.’ If there is a strike then we have a chance’ so the tables can turn really quick.”
Arkansas had done the same thing to Mississippi State last Sunday in Starville while sweeping the Bulldogs.
Delce allowed three hits in Bulldogs’ final at bat after giving up just four hits the first six innings.
She fanned seven and did not walk anyone, but did hit three batters on a night when Arkansas had just four hits.
“Chenise is probably a little bummed out and I am giving her a moment,” Deifel said. “When you look at the game you threw overall, there is a lot that you can pull from it that is really positive.
“I know she felt it with that pitch. You don’t see her take a monment like that too much. So we will talk through it and get her on track.”
Deifel didn’t think there are any adjustments to the worked out for her ace
“There is not anything to really fix,” Deifel said. “She pitched a heck of a game against a really good offense and they hit a missed pitch.”
Kylie Macy (3-1) pitched the final four innings for Georgia to get the victory after taking over for starter Madison Kerpics.
“She (Macy) was spinning it really nice,” Deifel said. “She was changing speeds really effectively. I thought we weren’t really aggressive in our zone and we stretched a little bit.
“That’s a good pitcher when you are pitching it and making us stretch. It is looking like a strike and it is ending a ball.
“There is a lot to learn from today, a lot to adjust to the ready to go tomorrow.”
Hoffman’s double looked like key insurance run at the time.
“That was a huge double there and she (Hoffman) obviously swung the bat really well last weekend,” Deifel said. “She is seeing the ball really well and I think she looks good.”
Arkansas and Georgia will meet against Friday night at 6 p.m and Saturday at 5 p.m.
Photo by John D. James