UA splits games against Big Ten foes

The 12th-ranked Arkansas softball team split a pair of close games Saturday to finish its appearance at the Paradise Classic in Boca Raton, Fla.

The Razorbacks (4-1) defeated Michigan State 6-5 in Game 1 of a doubleheader and fell 3-1 to Penn State in eight innings in Game 2.

In Game 1, Michigan State opened the scoring in the first inning. The Spartans led off with back-to-back singles, and a one-out sacrifice fly drove in their first run.

Arkansas tied the game in the second with a solo home run by second baseman Cylie Halvorson, the first by a Razorback this season.

The Razorbacks took the lead with a three-run third inning. A leadoff single put shortstop Lauren Camenzind at first, then right fielder Nia Carter walked with one out. A single by Rylin Hedgecock loaded the bases for first baseman Bri Ellis, who hit a two-RBI single.

Michigan State brought in Ashlyn Roberts to relieve starting pitcher Liv Grey, who took the loss. A fly out put Hedgecock on third and left fielder Raigan Kramer was hit by a pitch to load the bases again. Hannah Gammill was then hit by a pitch, which brought in a run.

Razorback starting pitcher Reis Beuerlein gave up a leadoff home run to Michigan State third baseman Hannah Hawley to start the fourth, and Arkansas made a pitching change.

Beuerlein pitched 3 innings and allowed 4 hits and 2 earned runs, and had 0 walks or strikeouts.

Left-hander Hannah Camenzind relieved Beuerlein in the circle and walked the first batter she faced before getting a strikeout. She induced a double play to end the inning.

Arkansas extended its lead in the fifth to 6-2 with a two-run home run by Gammill.

Michigan State hit back-to-back singles with one out in the sixth inning. Camenzind got a strikeout for the second out of the frame, but then gave up a first-pitch home run to Spartan first baseman Britain Beshears to make the score 6-5.

Arkansas brought in sophomore left-handed pitcher Robyn Herron after Camenzind gave up another single. Herron got a strikeout to end the inning.

The Razorbacks left the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, failing to add any insurance runs, and Herron came back out to try to close out the game.

She dealt a four-pitch walk to the leadoff hitter, but she bounced back with back-to-back strikeouts and a fly out to shut down Michigan State and give Arkansas the one-run win.

Herron was back in the circle about half an hour later to start Game 2 against Penn State. She pitched the full 7 1/3 innings, allowing 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned) and 1 walk, while striking out 10.

Arkansas scored one run in the first inning with an RBI single from Hedgecock that scored Reagan Johnson, who singled to lead off the inning, stole second and advanced to third on an error by the Nittany Lions second baseman Maddie Gordon.

Penn State answered in the second with an RBI triple by Liana Jones to score the leadoff batter Gaby Garcia, whom Herron had hit.

Both sides went in order in the third before Arkansas took a one-run lead on an RBI single by Carter in the top of the fourth. Penn State, however, tied the game again in the bottom of the frame with an RBI single by Haylie Brunson to score Gordon, who had also been hit by a pitch.

Neither team could plate a run for the next three innings, and each stranded two runners in the sixth.

The Paradise Classic tournament used the international tie breaker, meaning a runner was placed on second base in extra innings.

For Arkansas in the top of the eighth, that was Kramer. A Gammill sacrifice bunt put Kramer on third base, but Penn State pitcher Bridget Nemeth struck out the next two Razorbacks she faced to strand Kramer there.

Penn State, too, bunted its baserunner to third. Then, third baseman Emily Maddock hit a single to first base to drive in the winning run.

Arkansas is on the road again Feb. 16-18 for the Bear Down Fiesta hosted by Arizona. The Razorbacks will play Long Beach State once, then Arizona and Nebraska-Omaha twice.