LAKE CHARLES, La. – No. 25 Arkansas utilized a two out, six run second inning rally, defeating No. 18 Baylor, 7-2, for its first win over a ranked opponent this season. Designated player Linnie Malkin crushed a two run go-ahead home run in the sixth inning downing McNeese, 3-1, to sweep the doubleheader at Cowgirl Diamond.
Pitcher Mary Haff was outstanding, earning two victories while throwing 11.0 innings and allowing just three runs across both games.
Game 1: No. 25 Arkansas 7, No. 18 Baylor 2
Baylor (0-1) held a 2-0 lead briefly in the top of the second on infielder Taylor Ellis’ two run homer to left, but Arkansas wouldn’t waste any time, striking for a big six run side in the bottom half. With one out, infielder Hannah Gammill singled and infielder Audrie LaValley walked and each advanced a base on outfielder Keely Huffine’s sacrifice bunt. Outfielder Hannah McEwen tied the game driving a double to left and was immediately followed by infielder Danielle Gibson’s two run double off the wall in left, giving Arkansas a 4-2 lead.
With the bases loaded after outfielder Ryan Jackson was hit by a pitch and catcher Kayla Green walked, Malkin hit a ball over the third base bag that initially drove in two runs, however the umpires overturned the call, ruling it foul. The ball did not lie, and two pitches later Malkin snuck a base hit fare down the third base line scoring two runs, giving Arkansas a 6-2 cushion.
Gibson crushed a solo homer over the centerfield wall in the bottom of the sixth, adding an insurance tally. She finished the game 2-for-4 with three RBI.
After giving up two early runs, pitcher Mary Haff (1-1) found her groove and retired 11 straight Lady Bears to end the game. She finished the complete game striking out seven and allowed just three hits without any walks.
Game 2: No. 25 Arkansas 3, McNeese 1
Arkansas outhit McNeese, 7-4, and scored all three of its runs via the long ball. Infielder Hannah Gammill hit her second homer of the weekend, giving the Hogs a 1-0 lead in the second. McNeese scratched back, plating a run on an infield single in the fifth tying the game, 1-1.
Malkin, who clubbed the go-ahead two run bomb last night in the 14th against the Cowgirls, did the same today, depositing a two run shot to center giving Arkansas a 3-1 lead it would not relinquish in the sixth.
Arkansas defense also made two huge plays as Green and LaValley teamed up to nab a runner attempting a delayed steal of home and shortstop Braxton Burnside’s diving stop with the bases loaded ending the fourth.
Pitcher Autumn Storms earned the starting nod and went three innings allowing two hits and two walks with a strikeout in the no decision effort. Haff (2-1) answered the call yet again out of the pen in a pressure spot, inheriting a two on and nobody out situation but did not allow a run to score, inducing three groundouts. She worked four innings, allowed one hit, one earned run and struck out two.
Over the last 24 hours, which included 8.2 innings of relief last night against McNeese in Arkansas’ 6-4 14 inning win, Haff dealt 19.2 innings racking up 18 strikeouts while allowing just three earned runs (1.07 ERA).
Gammel and McEwen each recorded two hits. McEwen finished both games a combined 3-for-5 with two doubles, two RBI, a run scored and three walks.
Arkansas travels to UTA for a doubleheader tomorrow, Feb. 22 with first pitch slated for 3 p.m.