Texas Longhorns drop Fayetteville Super Regional opener to Arkansas Razorbacks

In the first four innings of Thursday night’s Super Regional opener in Fayetteville, Hailey Dolcini of Texas was able to keep Arkansas from doing what they do best: hitting softballs and racking up runs .

The fourth-seeded Razorbacks’ bats have been hot all season, as evidenced by the 26 points they amassed in their three-game sweep of last week’s NCAA Regional Tournament. . But Dolcini, the graduate transfer from Fresno State who was looking for a chance to compete at a higher level, kept the bats and Arkansas fans quiet inside Bogle Park until that decisive fifth inning.

Arkansas opened a scoreless game with three runs in the frame, two of which scored on a pitching error at home plate, ending Dolcini’s night and repelling Texas. The Razorbacks (48-9) kept that momentum going to win Game 1 of this series best-of-three 7-1 sending Texas (41-19-1) to the brink with a must-win Game 2 scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday.

“It was a tight four and a half innings game, it could have gone either way,” Texas coach Mike White said after the loss. “We didn’t quite do the job early offensively, we did a little bit late, and then defensively we obviously made a few mistakes which made a big difference. He just can’t award extra strikeouts and in those situations the good teams will take advantage.

Credit SEC pitcher of the year Chenise Delce (W, 19-2) for never breaking against a Texas roster that averaged 5.8 points and 8.3 hits per game heading into super regionals. Texas managed to put runners in scoring position in the first, second, third and fifth innings, but failed to capitalize.

The Longhorns sniffed out their best scoring opportunity after loading the bases with one out in the top of the fifth. Delce had third baseman Mia Scott chase three bases for the second out, then goaded a weak grounder to escape the jam and hold the tie in a scoreless tie for four and a half innings.

It was then that the dam finally broke for Dolcini (L, 21-10) and the Longhorns.

McEwen roped in a starting brace into center field and advanced to third on a sacrificial bunt, then Gibson intentionally walked to place runners in the corners. Third baseman Hannah Gammill finally broke the 0-0 tie with an RBI single to the left, the first of fifth-inning three-runs that turned the tide for Arkansas.

Texas had a chance to escape without further damage, but a potential double play ball to first base instead turned into an errant pitch to home plate and two extra runs for the Razorbacks. It did for Dolcini, who left after allowing seven hits, four walks and three runs (two earned) with four strikeouts.

Arkansas added four more runs in the seventh inning, all against second-year reliever Logan Hulon.

Overall, the Razorbacks recorded 12 hits against three Texas pitchers and left 11 runners stranded. Delce threw a complete shutout with six strikeouts while limiting Texas to three six-hits, a walk and a harmless run in the seventh inning.

“It’s the first round for them,” White said. “Hopefully tomorrow we can go out and put the game together a bit better until a full seven, but right now, of course, we have our backs against the wall. We just have to be dangerous.

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