The No. 6 Arkansas softball team made quick work of the Manhattan Jaspers with an 8-0 run-rule win in five innings Friday at Bogle Park for the Fayetteville Regional opener.
Junior right-hander and SEC Co-Pitcher of the Year Mary Haff assisted the Hogs with excellent pitching, giving up no runs, two hits and a walk. She obtained her 24th win of the season on 59 pitches, and struck out five.
“I thought it was a great game,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said in a Zoom postgame press conference. “I thought Manhattan did a really good job of keeping us off-balance early, and I felt like our team did a really good job of keeping our emotions and letting the game come to us.”
Senior right fielder Aly Manzo started the scoring with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the second inning.
The Bogle Bombers followed up in the third with a sacrifice fly by freshman third baseman Hannah Gammill and an RBI single by junior designated player Linnie Malkin to up the lead to 3-0.
The Razorbacks made a big splash in the bottom of the fifth with a five-run inning to put the game away. Malkin drew a walk with the bases loaded for her second RBI of the game. Sophomore pinch runner Audrie LaValley scored on a wild pitch during the next at-bat.
Arkansas reloaded the bases and Manzo drove in a run on a five-pitch walk. Senior center fielder Ryan Jackson ended the game with a two-run double.
Malkin, Manzo and Jackson each recorded two RBIs, with Malkin and junior left fielder Hannah McEwen leading the team with two hits each. The Razorback offense paved the way with eight knocks, drew four walks and did not strike out on the day.
Deifel said she was impressed with Malkin’s 2-2 outing at the plate that included a double, a walk and a pair of RBIs.
“She was clearly seeing it really well, she was swinging it really confidently,” Deifel said. “I thought she was a huge spark for us.”
The win was the program’s first run-rule in an NCAA Tournament game, and it brought the Hogs to 2-0 all-time against the Jaspers.
“It’s an amazing environment here at Bogle, and you could feel it,” Malkin said. “Everyone was cheering, ready for us to get back on (the field), and it helps us a lot knowing that our home field has the best fans, in our opinion.”
The Razorbacks will face the South Dakota State Jackrabbits Saturday at 1 p.m. as part of the winners’ bracket on ESPN3. The Stanford Cardinal and the Jaspers will square off in the elimination game at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN3. The loser of the Arkansas-SDSU contest and the winner of the Stanford-Manhattan game will compete at 6 p.m.