The No. 6 Arkansas softball team strolled to a 7-3 win over Stanford Sunday at Bogle Park, advancing to the super regionals for the second time ever. The Hogs will host a super regional for the first time in program history.
The Hogs wasted no time getting on the board with a two-run home run by graduate senior Braxton Burnside in the top of the first inning, her 25th dinger of the year.
“I think more than anything, it was a spark for us. I think she’s seeing the ball well, I think she’s battled to get back from her injury,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said in the postgame press conference. “I’ll give her a ton of credit — she was ready.”
The Cardinal countered in the bottom of the first with three runs. Junior shortstop Emily Young drove in a run on an infield single to senior right-handed pitcher Autumn Storms. Stanford tied the game with an RBI double by junior left fielder Emily Schultz, and took a 3-2 lead with an RBI single by sophomore second baseman Sydnee Huff.
Junior right-hander Mary Haff replaced Storms after one inning. Storms struck out two batters and gave up four hits and three runs, all unearned.
Deifel said that Storms slipped on her way to the dugout after the final out of the first inning and tweaked her ankle.
“She came in, we were making adjustments, and when she stepped into the dugout she slipped and twisted her ankle,” Deifel said. “That’s why she came out. I have a ton of trust and belief in Stormy and I knew she was going to get right back on track. I think that was an easy adjustment for someone like her. But she slipped and twisted her ankle so it was just time, at that point, to go to Mary.”
Arkansas regained the lead in the top of the fourth with an RBI single by senior center fielder Ryan Jackson, and senior second baseman Keely Huffine plated a run on a fielder’s choice to put the Razorbacks on top, 4-3.
The Bogle Bombers put the game out of reach with a three-run blast into center field by junior designated player Linnie Malkin, her 18th bomb of the season.
Haff obtained her 26th victory of the year and pitched six innings in relief. She allowed five hits, no walks and no runs while striking out three.
“From the beginning of the game, I was always in relief,” Haff said. “Now, when I would be going in was to be determined just on how the game was going. (It was) a little sooner than I was expecting, but I was ready to go in. Coach told me from the beginning I would be in relief and to just be ready.”
Over the weekend, Haff was the winning pitcher in all three games for Arkansas. She pitched a combined 17 innings and allowed 11 hits, two walks and no runs while striking out 15.
Deifel said she is excited about the Hogs hosting a super regional for the first time in school history.
“It’s really special, and to be honest, the really special part about it is that it was our player’s expectation,” Deifel said. “I think that when you look at what they’ve done and what they built, this is where they expected to be. I think you could see that in them over the course of the weekend. I think you could see it in this game. They knew they were going to win this.”
The Razorbacks will face the No. 11 Arizona Wildcats, the winner of the Tucson Regional, May 28-30. Game one is slated for 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPNU.
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