FAYETTEVILLE — No, 4 Arkansas broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth and went on to take a 6-2 win over Oregon in to advance to Sunday’s finals of the Fayetteville Regional.
In the bottom of the sixth, Arkansas got a three-run home run from Linnie Malkin that cleared the fence and fans in left field and then freshman Kacie Hoffmann follow with another blast to right field. In all Arkansas scored all six of its runs in the bottom of the sixth. Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel was pleased to get some runs on the scoreboard in the sixth.
“Obviously just excited we won that game,” Deifel said. “It was a big one to win. Really proud of the way our team fought. I thought Chenise (Delce) and our defense was superb today. I’m just really happy with that sixth inning. I told them I could have used it a little sooner. But they stayed strong together. Linnie I’m pretty sure I don’t think it’s come down yet. Huge team win. It’s a big one to get.”
Its big because now some team will have to defeat Arkansas twice on Sunday. Due to a long rain delay, the Arkansas game that started at 1 p.m. didn’t finish until well after 6 p.m.
Oregon pinch hitter Tehya Bird hit a two-run home run off Delce in the top of the seventh to avoid the shut out. Delce allowed six hits but struck out nine while not walking anyone. Delce pitched the top of the first before the rain delay hit. After a long delay she came back out and continued to dominate.
“The only thing I can think of when it rains is the OU and the Alabama game,” Delce said. “One team was dancing and the other one was kind of down on themselves. So that’s all I think about is, ‘OK don’t be the team that’s down or whatever.’ That just replays in my head a lot. I just stay focused on softball.”
Like Oregon, Arkansas also only had six hits. But unlike Oregon they made them count particularly in the sixth inning.
Danielle GIbson and Hannah Gammill started off the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles. That is when Malkin stepped to the plate and planted a Makenna Kliethermes pitch out of the stadium and also over the fans in left field. After Hoffmann hit a shot over the fence in right field the Hogs weren’t finished. Audrie LaValley was hit by a pitch. KB Sides walked and then Hannah McEwen smashed a double to left field that scored the final two runs. Malkin talked about the home run.
“I was looking for a hit,” Malkin said. “Just staying focused and staying the course. Chenise doesn’t think and I think that’s the best way to stay focused. Just let the game come back to me, but it felt good.”
An aspect of Malkin’s game that also helps her focus is singing to herself on the way to the batter’s box. She took a song from KC and the Sunshine Band when she went to plate in the sixth.
“I did and once I got in the box it was just light noise in my ears,” Malkin said. “It was Boogie Shoes. That’s my walk-up song.”
Delce (18-2) got the win while Kliethermes (10-6) took the loss. Arkansas (46-9) will now await the team that comes out of the loser’s bracket. Wichita State and Princeton were in an elimination game following the Arkansas game. The team that wins that will have to face Oregon. Then the winner of that has to defeat Arkansas twice. The Arkansas game is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday unless some games get moved around due to the weather delay on Saturday.