The No. 6 Arkansas softball team was shut out by the No. 17 Tennessee Volunteers, 1-0, in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament Thursday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The Razorbacks dropped to 2-2 all-time against the Lady Vols in the SEC Tournament, with each game decided by one run.
“It was one of those old-fashioned pitchers’ duels you don’t see too much anymore because the game’s so offensive,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said in a Zoom postgame press conference. “But I thought both pitchers threw with a ton of guts.”
The single run in the game came in the top of the fourth inning when Tennessee junior catcher Ally Shipman led off with a solo home run into left field. Arkansas junior right-handed pitcher Mary Haff was perfect through four innings before giving up the homer.
Arkansas was without graduate senior shortstop Braxton Burnside, the team leader in home runs, due to injury. Deifel said the injury occurred Tuesday, but did not specify the diagnosis.
“She couldn’t go today,” Deifel said. “We are optimistic at this point with how she is progressing that she will be ready to go for our regional. We fully expect her to be ready for that.”
The Razorbacks went a combined 1-22 at the plate, with the lone hit by senior right fielder Aly Manzo in the bottom of the fifth. They left five runners on base and had two on in the third and fifth innings, to no avail.
For the Volunteers, junior right-hander Ashley Rogers went the distance on 119 pitches. She allowed one hit, three walks and hit a batter while fanning 12.
“I was disappointed in our offense because I don’t think we made (Rogers) do a lot different,” Deifel said. “She’s a very good pitcher, so don’t get me wrong. I’m tipping my hat to her. But I don’t think we made her get us out in different ways.”
Haff said it was a tough night for the offense, but the Razorbacks have their eyes set on the NCAA Tournament.
“We never really got anything going,” Haff said. “I think we chased a lot of balls out of the zone. In this league with a pitcher like Rogers you have to try to capitalize when you have runners on and we just didn’t do that.”
Haff threw a complete game on 79 pitches and allowed two hits, an earned run and no walks while striking out five. She was credited her sixth loss in the circle.
The Razorbacks await their schedule for the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Tournament Selection Show will be broadcast on ESPN2 and start at 8 p.m. Sunday. The Hogs are likely to host a regional, having been among the NCAA's top 16 for seven consecutive weeks.