By Jason Pattyson
FAYETTEVILLE — The Razorback’s struggles at the plate cost them a game-one loss to Tennessee, 3-1, Saturday evening.
Arkansas batters went 2-23 at the dish and could only muster up one run from two hits in the loss. Arkansas senior Chenice Delce went the distance and charged with her sixth loss of the year, but head coach Courtney Deifel said that she was efficient in the circle today, and we will see her again at some point in the series.
“I think Chenise is feeling as good as she’s felt all year,” said Deifel. “She was very efficient today, which is always nice for the workload. And you’ll see her again in the series. I’m not sure when, but you’ll see her again.”
Tennessee pitcher Ashley Rogers allowed one run on two hits, but the Hogs kept the pressure on the Vol’s defense, working the count full nine times at the plate, but she found a way to get the job done.
“I think we made her throw a lot of pitches. I think we had the count close to 140-150 at the end,” Deifel said. “But she’s one of the best pitchers in the country, and so she threw a lot of pitches but still made the ultimate pitch that would get us out.”
The Volunteers would crack the scoreboard first when Mackenzie Donihoo, the transfer from Oklahoma, sent a high fly ball to right field in the top of the fifth inning. Sophomore Kacie Hoffman had a track on the ball, but it landed just over the fence to give them a 1-0 lead.
Arkansas bounced right back in the bottom of the frame and pushed a run across the plate; head coach Courtney Deifel challenged the play. Tennessee catcher Koutsoyano blocked the plate, not giving Rijo a clear path to the plate. The call on the field would be reversed, and Tennessee head Karen Weekly was tossed from the game for questioning the reversed decision.
I thought she was set up the whole time in the lane, so I wanted to get another look at it. The home plate umpire didn’t think so right away, and that’s why we have a review. We just wanted to get the call right, Deifel said.
The Razorbacks played a clean game for the most part on the defensive side of the ball. This was a point coach Deifel made going into the Kentucky series that they would have to carry for the rest of the season.
The Hog defense had one mishap that would cost them two runs and, ultimately, the game. Tennessee had runners on first and second with one out when Zadia Puni hit a flare to short right field. Hoffman fielded the fly off the bounce and came up throwing as she tried to get the runner out at home. First baseman Cylie Halvorson cut off the throw and tried to gun the runner out at second, and the ball got past second baseman Kristina Foreman and rolled to the edge of the grass. That allowed a second Volunteer run to cross the plate, and that would ultimately cap the scoring in the game.
Arkansas looks to even the series Sunday, and the first pitch is set for noon and will broadcast on ESPN 2.