FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 7 Arkansas softball team (38-7, 17-4 SEC) hits the road to play No. 14 LSU (28-15, 10-8 SEC) for a three-game SEC series to close out the regular season from Saturday, May 1 through Monday, May 3. Saturday’s game will air on ESPNU with Eric Frede (play-by-play) and Amanda Scarborough (analyst) on the call while Beth Mowins (play-by-play) and Michele Smith (analyst) will call the action on Sunday and Monday on SEC Network.
Entering the weekend’s slate of games, Arkansas (17-4) sits 1.5 games ahead of Florida (14-4) for first place in the SEC standings. The Razorbacks are playing their last three SEC games of the year, while all other teams vying for first place have six games remaining. The Hogs can guarantee at least a share of the SEC regular season title with a sweep of LSU. Other title clinching scenarios are dependent on results of other league games. The Razorbacks are looking to win their first regular season championship in program history.
Last Time Out
Arkansas won one of a three-game series last week at home against No. 19 Missouri, taking the finale 8-4 on Monday night. The Razorbacks suffered back-to-back losses for the first time this season, dropping the first two games of the series 6-3 and 10-1. Missouri became the first team to score at least 10 runs against Arkansas pitching since then-No. 10 Oklahoma State defeated the Razorbacks 12-11 in the season opener in Monroe, La. on Feb. 11. Infielder Danielle Gibson led the Hogs slashing .500./.500/1.200 in the series and pounded two homers and a double with six RBI.
The Razorbacks have been on a power surge this season, totaling a program record 87 home runs to lead the SEC and rank second nationally. Burnside paces the team with 24 homers, which leads the SEC and places second nationally behind Oklahoma’s Jocelyn Alo (25). Designated player Linnie Malkin and Gibson’s 15 homers a piece are tied for fifth in the SEC and 13th nationally. The Razorbacks are one of three teams in the country (Oklahoma & Arizona) that have four or more players with 10 or more homers, which includes catcher Kayla Green’s 11 bombs. Arkansas and Oklahoma are the only two teams in the country with three players that have 15 or more home runs.
Burnside’s 24 home runs this season are the most in a single season in program history. She broke the record with her 18th shot of the year on April 1 at Auburn, launching a three-run bomb in the fifth inning. Burnside broke Nicole Shroeder’s record of 17 set in 2017. The Paragould, Ark. product is also tied for fifth in homers in SEC single-season history and holds the record for most by a shortstop.
- Pitcher Mary Haff ranks fourth in the nation in wins (21) and 22nd in strikeouts (164). Her career ERA of 1.69 is the third-best mark in program history and .182 opponent batting average is best in school history. Haff (72-23) needs just one more win to tie Heather Schlichtman (2001-04) for the most in program history.
- During SEC-only games, pitcher Autumn Storms ranks second in ERA (1.19) and sixth in opponent batting average (.201).
- Outfielder Hannah McEwen needs one hit to reach 200 for her career and became one of nine Razorbacks to reach the plateau in their careers.
- Over her last 10 games, Green is slashing .323/.353/.839 and hit five of her 11 homers on the year.
- In addition to ranking second in the country in homers, the Razorbacks also rank third in walks, drawing 180.
- Arkansas’ five SEC series sweeps are the most in program history since the current conference scheduling format began in 2013. The team’s 17 SEC wins are the most in a year over that span.
- Arkansas ended a 19-game win streak on Tuesday, March 16, which was the longest in program history. It bested the prior record of 12 set by the 1999 and 2008 teams and was the only one of the three streaks to encompass a conference series sweep. This year’s squad is the only team in school history to have two winning streaks of at least 12 games in the same season.
USA Softball Top 25 Finalists
Both Burnside and Haff were named USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 25 Finalists. The Razorbacks were one of just five teams to have two players named to the list, joining Washington, Oklahoma, UCLA and Alabama. The list of 25 Finalists will be narrowed to 10 Finalists on May 5 before the Top 3 Finalists will be announced on May 19. The 2021 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed prior to the 2021 NCAA Women’s College World Series, which is set to take place June 3-9 at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex.
LSU has won four of its last five games and won both games of a doubleheader at No. 14 Kentucky last Sunday, 10-7 and 10-4. Outfielder Aliyah Andrews leads the team hitting .366 while infielder Taylor Pleasants’ 10 homers paces the club. Inside the circle, Ali Kilponen leads the team in innings pitched (91.2), ERA (1.76) and strikeouts (94). The Tigers are 60-11 all-time against the Razorbacks, but Arkansas won the last series in 2019 in Fayetteville.
Arkansas has a bye week before playing in the SEC Tournament, which runs from May 12-15 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., with a date, opponent and time to be announced.