BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
Arkansas head softball coach Courtney Deifel, whose team will play four fall exhibition games in Kansas City this weekend, has added two of the nation’s best 2025 prospects in the past month.
Woodlawn pitcher Lillie-Faye McWhorter, the 27th-best junior nationally per Extra Inning Softball, committed to her home state Razorbacks on Sept. 13, a few days after taking an official visit to Fayetteville.
“I loved it and as soon as I walked on campus, there was just like a feeling that it was home,” McWhorter said. “Just getting to meet with all the coaches and the players, everybody just made me feel so welcomed and they never made it feel like a stranger. They made you feel like you had known them forever.
“I’ve always just wanted to play college softball, play SEC softball and always wanted to play at Arkansas and now that’s going to happen.”
McWhorter was joined as a future Razorback Monday by Rockville (Tenn.) Eagleville junior infielder Brinli Bain, a top five player nationally per Extra Elite 100.
“Obviously what Coach Deifel has done with the program is amazing and they have had a lot of accomplishments these last few years,” McWhorter said. “I know she is going to accomplish even more before we get up there and when we get there.
“As a coach, she’s just amazing. She is not someone who is just like ‘sports, sports, sports.’ She cares about you as a person, too, and wants to make sure you are okay as a person before it is straight athlete. She just pushes her athletes to be the best that they possibly can.”
Bain announced her pledge Monday on X, which is the social media platform previously known as Twitter.
“I feel so confident that this program and this coaching staff will develop my skills as a player on the field and lead me to be a strong woman off of the field, all while helping me grow my faith and love towards the Lord,” Bain wrote. “They have shown me love continuously and I can’t wait to call Arkansas home.”
As a sophomore last spring, the 5-9 McWhorter struck out 205 batters in 120.1 innings with a 1.69 earned run average.
McWhorter also hit .425 with nine home runs and 38 RBIs last season.
That followed a freshman season in which McWhorter had a minuscule 0.45 ERA and whiffed 230 batters in 107 innings while holding opponents to a .098 batting average.
She was also a standout at the plate as a ninth grader while batting .508 with 8 home runs and 39 runs batted in.
McWhorter credited her personal pitching coach Maylie Corbitt for her transformation as a pitcher over the last three years.
Corbitt is owner and an instructor of Spin It to Win It Elite Fastpitch in Searcy.
“Honestly, when I started with her, I was nothing,” McWhorter said. “I had bounced between a lot of pitching coaches…but then I found Maylie and she helped me with my basic fast ball mechanics firsthand and then also helped me with my mental game.
“…She just helped me develop from nothing into what I am now and I really appreciate that. It was rough when I first started pitching I could not make it out of the inning and now I can go the full seven innings. She has really helped me come from nothing to something.”
Bain, who catches and plays second base, led her high school team to the 2022 Class 1A state title and has played in three consecutive championship games since joining the varsity as an eight grader.
Bain batted .543 as a sophomore with 12 doubles, six triples, 10 homers, 46 RBIs and 42 runs for Eagleville.
As a freshman, Bain hit .406 with a .749 slugging percentage while playing catcher and second base 2022 as her team won the program’s only state title.
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The current Razorbacks will play a quartet of exhibition games this weekend in the University of Missouri-Kansas City Fallapalooza softball tournament being held at Urban Youth Academy.
Arkansas will take on South Dakota State Saturday at 5 p.m and then face UMKC at 7 p.m.
The Razorbacks and and UMKC’s Roos will meet again Sunday morning at 10 a.m. before the Razorbacks close out their weekend with a noon battle against Butler (Kan.) Community College.
Photo courtesy of Lilli McWhorter