Arkansas softball looking to Bear Down in Arizona this weekend

By Dudley E. Dawson
on 2024-02-15 18:04 PM


The No. 13 Arkansas softball team  will see some familiar faces when it plays this weekend at the Bear Down Fiesta Classic in Tucson, Ariz.

The Razorbacks (4-1) have some Western Flavor with Arizona natives Spencer Prigge (Phoenix),  Reis Beuerlein (Cave City) and Morgan Leinstock (Scottsdale) and California’s Nia Carter, who hails from Rancho Cucamonga.

“It’s huge,” Arkansas head coach Courtney Deifel said. “We like to get our players home, we like to in the two weekends we really have to choose, we like to get our players home or our recruits and obviously good weather.

“So this is about as close as we can get this year for Nia and Morgan and Reis and Spence. All those that are West. So it is always great, I think our families travel well anyway, but it is going to be really fun to have a pretty good size and what I hear a pretty vocal group. So we are looking forward to it.”

Arkansas will open play Friday at noon CST when it faces Long Beach State (0-4)  in a contest that will be streamed on FloSoftball and will then battle host Arizona (5-0) at 5 on the Wildcats’ website live stream.

The Razorbacks will test Omaha (4-1) Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and Arizona at 3 and finish up Sunday morning at 10 a.m. against Omaha again with the Road games being on FloSoftball and the other on Arizona’s live steam.

Arizona, who plays Long Beach State twice Thursday night to open the event,   run-ruled all five of its foes while outscoring them 40-1  last weekend and was most recently in the College World Series in 2022 in what was the program’s 25th time to do so.

The Wildcats, which were 29-25 last season and did not make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 35 seasons, hammered  Lipscomb once  and North Texas  and Northern Carolina a couple of times each.  

“This coming weekend we only have three whereas last weekend we had five so it feels like a lighter load to prep for,” Deifel said. “Arizona, they swing it big and they create havoc on the bases because they are fast and their field play is very fast and bouncy, but the ball also flies. 

“It is a stadium and an elevation that really fits their offense. I think their pitching, I think this last weekend they gave up just one run, which is really tough to do no matter who you are playing in an offensive game.

“I think they are playing really well, playing really complete and their defense is always good.”

“You look at Long Beach and I think they had a really tough start, but as you watched their weekend, they were playing better at the end. We expect Long Beach to do what Long Beach always does and that’s pitch it really well, defend it really well and they create runs by putting pressure on your defense, which is going to be an interesting thing with how the infield plays in Tucson.”

“Omaha had a really great first weekend, too,” Deifel said. “They had a tough schedule and beat Northern Iowa, they beat Northern Illinois and split with  Drake. So they were really challenged early.

“I would be curious, because they played indoors, this might be the first time they have been on dirt and how it plays.

“But we are going to have three very complete teams, three very well-prepared teams. It will be a great weekend to challenge us.” 

Arkansas opened its season last weekend at the Paradise Classic in Boca Raton, Fla., with wins over Marshall (10-3), host Florida Atlantic University (8-0), Ohio (7-3) and Michigan State (6-5) before falling to Penn State 3-2 in extra innings.

“I think that we learned  a lot about our group overall on the weekend,” Deifel said. “I would say that we were necessarily firing, but finding a way.  Obviously we had that tough game in the last one and you get tied (in extra innings)…and it’s just tough and  changes the game quite a bit. Penn State just outplayed us.”

Leadoff hitter Reagan Johnson (10 for 20) and second-place hitter Nia Carter (7 for 18) combined to go 17 of 38 an score nine runs in the Florida event as Arkansas hit .306 as a team, scored 33 runs on 41 hits and stole all six bases it attempted.

Cylie Halvorson and Bri Ellis both hit .357 with Ellis driving in a team-high 7 runs while Rylin Hedgecock batted .337.

“Over the course of the weekend, if you were watching closely, you probably  think that only Reagan and Nia were really feeling it, yet we were producing and scoring a lot of runs,” Deifel said. 

“So I think we learned a lot. Pitchers competed and I think we have some things  we just need to fine tune because we are going to need to be better this upcoming weekend. But I liked our character, I liked our composure. I didn’t love our last day, but we get to respond to it moving forward.  So a good first weekend.”

Pitcher Robyn Herron went 2–1 with a 1.02 ERA or Arkansas while throwing 13 2/3 innings and striking out 20.

Hannah Camenzind (1-0, 2.74) pitched 7 2/3 innings, Linestock (1-0, 2.10) hurled 6 2/3  and Reis Beuerlein (0-0, 6.56) the other 5 1/3.

“When you get to the end of the weekend, you look back and you’re like, ‘Dang, Morgan only threw a little over six innings,’” Deifel said. “That’s not how we necessarily drew it up, but she was going to work in tandem with [Herron], and [Herron] had really great outings.”

(Last updated: 2024-02-15 18:04 PM)