The Arkansas-Monticello softball program opened the 2022 season by splitting the day on Saturday, winning the first against Southwest Baptist 8-3, and falling to Northeastern State 7-6. With an impressive showing, the Blossoms scored a combined 14 total runs on the first day of the season.
The Blossoms won with no stress in Game 1, scoring three runs in the bottom of the third, adding another four runs in the bottom of the fourth, and adding a final run in the bottom of the fifth to win 8-3. Arkansas-Monticello was just as aggressive at the plate in the second game, but couldn’t quite hold on to their lead, falling 7-6.
Head Coach Kyle Lem had this to say about opening day:
“It was great to get out in the field with the crew today. I feel like we competed well. Too many mental errors from playing passive, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed. Looking forward to another great day tomorrow!”
In Game 1, UAM struggled to get the ball into a hole the first two innings, but found their stride as the game continued. The Blossoms pushed three runs across in the third inning. Sophomore Grace Neal gave the Blossoms an extended lead with a three-run homer for her fourth career long ball as a Blossom in the bottom of the fourth, 7-0 lead. The Bearcats answered with a run scored of their own in the top of the fifth, but UAM with match that in the bottom of the inning. Southwest Baptist would score their final 2 runs of the game in the top of the sixth.
Jamie Franks got the Opening Day nod in the circle, posting 4.0 innings, and only allowing 2 hits. Maguire Estill entered the game in fifth, getting 1.2 innings thown and a strike out. Averie Gunther was the final pitcher of the match, finishing out the game with 1.1 innings pitched and only one hit allowed.
The second game of the day also started with an early rally from UAM to score first. A Bailey Camp single to left center would score Grace Neal. Northeastern was quick to follow up with a run of their own in the bottom of the first. A home run in the bottom of the second gave the RiverHawks their first lead of the game at 2-1.
A handful of walks, stolen bases, and timely hitting would give the Blossoms a run in the top of the third. NSU would also match this outcome in the bottom of the inning.
Alissa Suarez would score on a passed ball, followed by a bomb from Haley Cornell would give UAM 2 more runs in the fourth. Sophie Wood steals home in the fifth to add one more run to the UAM lead. The RiverHawks would go on to score 4 runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and eventually win the game.
Sam Stephens started Game 2, dishing out 3.0 innings of work. She struck out two, allowing four hits. Maddie Chalenburg closed the remaining 3.0 innings, also striking out two and giving up 4 runs, eventually taking the loss 7-6.
Grace Neal – Home Run in Game 1 and 3 RBIs on the day
Haley Cornell – Home Run in Game 2
Hannah Holdbrook – Hit a double in each game, collected 4 RBIs and a stolen base on the day.
Bailey Camp – Went 3-for-4 in Game 2 with 2 stolen bases
Madison Gardiner – Went 2-for-3 in Game 1 with a run scored
Game 1 Scoring Recap
The first run of the day was scored by Maddie Pfleging who was a pinch runner for Madison Gardiner. Gardiner had made it to first on a single to right. Pfleging would steal second, followed by a walk for Alissa Suarez. They would both advance to second and third off a throwing error from the pitcher. A Hannah Holdbrook double to center field brought home Pfleging and Suarez. Haley Cornell would reach on an error and advance to second, Holdbrook would move to third. A SAC bunt from Caroline Tedder would score Holdbrook. Bailey Camp would fly out to center field to end the inning.
Southwest Baptist 0, Arkansas-Monticello 3
Averie Gunther reached first on a hit-by-pitch. Madison Gardiner followed with a single to right field, pushing Gunther to second. Allisa Suarez would reach first on a fielders choice, and Gunther and Gardiner advance to load the bases. Hannah Holdbrook hits a SAC fly to center, scoring Suarez. With two outs, Grace Nealhit a three-run homer.
Southwest Baptist 0, Arkansas-Monticello 7
Southwest baptist had a batter reach on a throwing error, advancing to second in the process. A single up the middle would score that runner, putting the bearcats on the board.
Southwest Baptist 1, Arkansas-Monticello 7
Bailey Camp gets hit by a pitch and gets on base, stealing second immediately after. A two out single to center field from Emily Cecil would score Camp.
Southwest Baptist 1, Arkansas-Monticello 8
A couple of mental mistakes in th field from Arkansas-Monticello would lead to the Bearcats getting runners on base. A wal would load the bases, eventually leading to another walk that would score one run in. A two out single would score the final run of the game for SBU.
Southwest Baptist 3, Arkansas-Monticello 7
Game 2 Scoring Recap
Grace Neal would reach first on a fielders choice. Caroline Tedder hits a two out single to the shortstop, advancing Neal to second. Bailey Camp hits a two out single to left center, advancing Tedder and scoring Neal.
Arkansas-Monticello 1, Northeastern State 0
A lead off home run from the RiverHawks would tie the score.
Arkansas-Monticello 1, Northeastern State 1
A second inning with a lead off home run would add another run to the RiverHawks, giving them the lead.
Arkansas-Monticello 1, Northeastern State 2
Caroline Tedder gets walked and advanced around the bases thanks to a Bailey Camp single. Averie Gunther hits a single up the middle, scoring Tedder and tying the score at 2.
Arkansas-Monticello 2, Northeastern State 2
The RiverHawks eventually score a run on a wild pitch with two outs in the inning.
Arkansas-Monticello 2, Northeastern State 3
Alissa Suarez reaches first on a fielding error early in the inning and advances to second on the play. Hannah Holdbrook grounds out, pushing Suarez to third. Suarez scores on a passed ball, tying the game up at 3. Haley Cornell hits a home run to right field, giving UAM the lead.
Arkansas-Monticello 4, Northeastern State 3
Sophie Wood hits a single up the middle and follows up by taking second base on aa pass ball. Gunther reaches first on a fielding error and Wood moves over to third. Wood steels home and scores for UAM.
Arkansas-Monticello 5, Northeastern State 3
NSU gets runners on base through a base by balls, multiple singles, and a double. They score 4 runs and take back the lead from UAM.
Arkansas-Monticello 5, Northeastern State 7
Averie Gunther is walked onto first base, where she takes second on a wild pitch. Hannah Holdbrook hits a double to center field, collecting the RBI as Gunther scores.
Arkansas-Monticello 6, Northeastern State 7
The Blossoms return to Ouachita Baptist on Sunday, Feb. 6 for their final two games of the Mike McGhee/Ronnie Hawkins Classic. They play against Cameron University at 1 p.m. Following this game is the final game of the tournament against Emporia State University at 3 p.m.