It was opening day in Palm Springs, California, and no runs were on the board in Arkansas’ game against Grand Canyon on Feb. 17. The Razorbacks sent out a freshman in the bottom of the second inning for her first career at-bat. With a hard swing, the ball cleared the fence over left field. Little did the freshman know, that wasn’t her only homer of the day.
After her first dinger, first basemen Linnie Malkin rounded the bases again after hitting another home run, putting Arkansas up 2-0 against Grand Canyon State in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.
“I was really excited,” Malkin said. “I couldn’t stop smiling, and it was almost surreal that it happened.”
Razorback left fielder Sydney Parr was thrilled to see Malkin start off her career in such a profound way, she said .
“Whenever Linnie hit her home run in her first collegiate at-bat, I had nothing but excitement for her,” Parr said.
Razorback softball coach Courtney Deifel was excited to see how well Malkin performed in her collegiate debut.
“As she was rounding third, the smile on her face and the joy you could see in her was one of the greatest feelings as a coach,” Deifel said.
With one out in the top of the fourth, Malkin hit another homer, again to the left.
“[On] my second one, I was honestly laughing because when it happened, I really couldn’t believe it,” Malkin said.
Arkansas defeated Grand Canyon State, 6-2. Malkin finished the game with three at-bats, two runs, two hits and three RBIs.
Malkin always had the ability to swing the bat. She finished her senior year in high school with 0.603 batting average to go with 11 home runs, 35 RBIs and a 1.365 slugging percentage.
That year, she led Broomfield to a runner-up finish in the state. Because of her strong play, she was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in Colorado and the state’s Class 5A Player of the Year. Malkin also earned a spot on the Premier Girls Fastpitch All-Mountain Region Team. She was a part of teams that won two league titles and made four state championship appearances.
Malkin’s final stats from her high school career were a 0.495 batting average, 32 home runs and 127 RBIs.
After her first four games as a Razorback, Malkin has 10 at-bats, two runs, four hits and three RBIs.
Even as a freshman, Malkin has the potential to be a leader for this team, Diefel said.
“It doesn’t matter if you are a freshman or a senior,” Deifel said. “They are going to step up at different times, and they all have different personalities that are right for certain moments. The thing that Linnie does really well is keep things really light.”
Malkin’s performance from the plate has built confidence for the entire team, Parr said.
“Our team confidence is outstanding,” Parr said. “We, as a unit, feel as though we are ready to take on whatever is thrown at us. It helps to have a freshman like Linnie confident in her abilities and a dominant force on the field.”
Malkin has high expectations as her first year at Arkansas continues, she said.
“[I want] to leave it all on the field and continue to get even better every day,” Malkin said.
The Razorbacks will take on Dartmouth and Central Connecticut State on Friday. First pitch against Dartmouth is set for 4 p.m. The next game will start at 6:30 p.m.