The Arkansas softball team will honor nine seniors in their program on Sunday as part of their senior day festivities.
The Razorbacks are set to host Missouri at 3:00 p.m. in the second game of their final home series of the season. Maybe the feeling hasn’t hit many of these seniors that it is their last few times playing in Bogle Park, but for Braxton Burnside, choosing to play for Courtney Deifel at Arkansas was the best decision they could’ve made.
“Looking back at my journey, it’s almost like a storybook ending. And I’m super, super blessed that I get to represent Arkansas and just get to represent so much more than myself,” said Burnside.
Arkansas will honor eight seniors currently on their roster on Sunday and Sydney Parr as well, who finished her career as a Razorback last season, but didn’t have a chance to celebrate her four-year career at Arkansas.
Athletes have come from all over to join Arkansas, leaving their homes thousands of miles away to play softball for the Razorbacks, like redshirt senior Autumn Storms. She traveled more than 1,500 miles from Temecula, California to Fayetteville to pitch for the Hogs.
Being so far from family was hard, but her team became her home away from home.
“Me and my mom were so close and then I got here and she wasn’t there anymore. And Coach (Courtney) Deifel kind of stepped up and was in that role for me and is still in that role for me,” Storms smiled. “I call her mom, I sit there and I just crack up with her.”
Before a lot of these seniors got here, the Arkansas softball program was on shaky ground. They had won just one SEC game in the 2015-2016 season. As much as Deifel took a chance on them, they also took a chance on her.
“I came in knowing that this program wasn’t in a good spot and I knew that. And my goal was to turn it around,” said Storms.
It’s not just a turnaround these seniors sparked, it’s a complete transformation from one end of the spectrum to the other. From a record of 17-39 in 2015-2016, this group has helped lead Arkansas to a 37-7 record this year with 16 wins in conference.
There are still more games to be played this year and these Arkansas seniors are not done blazing the trail toward what they always knew this program could become.