CATHEDRAL CITY, CA (arkansasrazorbacks.com)– The University of Arkansas softball team closed out its road trip with a 12-4 win over Central Michigan Sunday morning on the final day of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Razorbacks registered a season-high 13 hits on their way to the run-rule victory, including three home runs. Arkansas won four of five games during its weekend in the Golden State to even its record at 5-5 heading into the team’s home opener.
With the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in the books, the team returns to Fayetteville to host the Razorback Invitational next weekend at Bogle Park. Beginning Friday, Arkansas is set to host Drake and UMKC and will play each team twice during the tournament.
Throughout the weekend, the Razorbacks utilized the long ball to its advantage and finished the round-robin event with 11 home runs in five games. Arkansas’ home-run total ranked second among all teams at the tournament. All 11 home runs came over the final four games after the team went without one in its opener against New Mexico. Seven different players hit at least one home run this weekend, led by three from redshirt junior Nicole Schroeder.
After giving up two runs in the first to Central Michigan (4-6), senior starter Claire Clark helped herself and got a run back with a solo home run to lead off the second inning. After an RBI single by Stephanie Canfield and an infield hit for Autumn Russell, runners were on first and second for freshman Ashley Diaz. The South El Monte, Calif., native responded with her second home run of the weekend, a three-run blast to center field, for a 5-2 advantage.
The lead was down to two when the offense came to the plate in the top of the fourth. Once again, Canfield and Russell put together back-to-back hits at the top of the lineup and Nicole Schroeder was hit by a pitch to extend the inning and load the bases. Madison Yannetti brought in two more scores with a two-run single to right center.
The Razorbacks put themselves in run-rule position with another five-run outburst in the top of the fifth inning. Shelby Hiers got things going with a lead-off single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Parker Pocklington. Pinch hitter Rachel Box stepped to the plate and delivered a two-run shot to center field to give her team the 9-3 lead. Arkansas had the bases loaded later in the inning and took advantage of three walks to drive in the team’s final three runs of the game.
Clark earned her second win of the weekend with four innings of work in which she struck out four CMU hitters and issued just one walk. Freshman Peyton Carter pitched the fifth inning in relief and struck out the final hitter of the game to clinch the weekend finale. Sunday’s game was the first-ever meeting between Arkansas and Central Michigan.
Collectively, the Razorbacks hit .357 over the five games in California. The offense was paced by Canfield who registered a .667 hitting percentage with 10 hits in 15 at bats. As Arkansas’ 1-2 spots in the batting order, she and Russell combined for seven hits in Sunday’s win over Central Michigan. With her performance against the Chippewas, Russell recorded the first four-hit game of her career.