FAYETTEVILLE — No. 18 Texas defeated Arkansas 3-1 on Friday to force a Game 3 at the Fayetteville Super Regional in Bogle Park.
The two teams will play at 3 p.m. on ESPN. Texas’ Hailey Dolcini pitched and Janae Jefferson hit the Longhorns to the victory. Dolcini limited Arkansas to just five hits while Jefferson hit a home run lifting Texas to the victory. Arkansas’ Courtney Deifel talked about the rate loss at Bogle Park following the game.
“Obviously not the result we wanted today,” Deifel said. “All in all, I just thought Texas was tougher than us. They controlled their emotions a lot better than us. What I saw from our team in the last four innings really wasn’t us.”
What Deifel saw in the last four innings was Dolcini retire 13 hitters of the 14 she faced. Only a Danielle Gibson single in the sixth inning broke up Dolcini’s complete domination the second half of the game. Deifel still believes she will see a different effort today.
“What this team has done all season is answer,” Deifel said Friday. “There’s a big opportunity to answer tomorrow.”
Gibson, who led Arkansas with two hits, talked about what she saw from Dolcini.
“I don’t think it was a level of difficult,” Gibson said. “I think she was more competitive than we were up in the box.”
Gibson also talked about all the foul balls the Razorbacks hit on Friday which ran Dolcini’s pitch count up, but also proved to be somewhat of a negative for Arkansas.
“Making sure we don’t stretch the zone,” Gibson said. “I think you are seeing a bunch of foul balls because we’re stretching the zone on the inside half. We didn’t do that [Thursday]. We made sure we either were hit by a pitch or it was a ball. So today we got a little bit anxious, little bit eager instead of letting the pace of the game stay with us. We didn’t control the zone like we did (Thursday).”
Was pressure of winning to get to Oklahoma City a factor on Friday?
“I don’t know if it’s pressure,” Gibson said. “I think we just wanted it so bad we didn’t let the game come to us. I guess we were just a little too eager today.”
Deifel pointed to the 19-pitch at bat by Hannah Gammill as a time when Texas rallied forward and Arkansas didn’t.
“I think that at bat with Hannah Gammill was the momentum shift,” Deifel said. “They got back in the dugout and they were fighting for their pitcher. That’s when they capitalized with the runs. Honestly, we just never grabbed the bat. I think we had for lack of a better word and oh crap moment. So that is what Gib was talking about just stretching the zone. Just want to get them back so bad you just get outside yourself. What they’ve done really well is control our emotions and we just lost that today.”
Of Arkansas’ 21 outs in the game, 14 came result of a flyout including all three outs in the top of the seventh. Arkansas entered this super regional having hit 109 home runs, including seven in the regional last weekend, and yet they haven’t hit any against Texas. Were the players maybe trying to hit a home run maybe too much on Friday?
“We didn’t make great adjustments,” Deifel said. “That’s what this offense does is make great adjustments and learn from each other. To have better at bats as we go. We had a lot of lazy fly balls today. Just didn’t really square it up. That’s being off time. It’s stretching the zone. All that’s connected.”
Texas entered the super regional having only hit 58 home runs, but Jefferson and Katie Cimusz hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of third inning. Texas Coach Mike White was obviously pleased with his team’s win on Friday.
“Today we came out and we played loose,” White said. “We took advantage of some great pitching by Hailey Dolcini. A lot of fly balls. Exactly what we wanted her to do. We played tight defense with no errors today. It was an exciting game and I’m looking forward to [Saturday].”
On Friday, Deifel talked about what today’s game is about for Arkansas.
“It’s an opportunity to answer,” Deifel said. “The rubber match is about toughness and controlling our emotions. We learned from today. I expect us to be better in those areas. We’ll put it all out there. I don’t think we fought like Razorback softball typically fights. I don’t think we did that today. It’s one of those you can’t control the outcome, but you can control how you approach. I expect us to play more a lot more freely tomorrow and play like the Razorback softball team that everyone loves.”
The winner of today’s game will advance to Oklahoma City.