Arkansas vs Alabama: Hogs Climb Back into Top 10, but No Let-Up in Sight

Arkansas softball, Alabama softball, Arkansas vs Alabama
photo credit: Alabama Athletics / Arkansas Athletics

Arkansas softball was being fed to the wolves. After being run-ruled for the first time all season in the series finale – and rubber game – against Mississippi State, things were looking rather difficult.

Head coach Courtney Deifel and her team had to face a gauntlet of ranked opponents. Trips to No. 3 Georgia and No. 25 South Carolina loomed, sandwiched around a date with No. 11 Missouri at Bogle Park.

The results are in and the Razorbacks came out stronger on the other side. While the sweep still eludes them, Arkansas won all three series two games to one and pushed its ranking to No. 8 in the latest Softball America poll. The series win against No. 3 Georgia matched the program’s highest scalp in program history, as the Hogs also took down No. 3 Tennessee last year.

The softball lineup has had about the same consistency as the baseball lineup: None. Because of the crowded depth that the softball team possesses, Deifel has been able to mix and match her lineups daily to her liking and her players have taken it well. 

“It could be really easy to be selfish or pout, ‘Oh my name’s not in there and I’m going to be really down because I want to play,’’’ Deifel said before the South Carolina series. “It’s just about the team, so I do think that they’ve handled it well. Everybody wants to be out there, but it’s just now when their name’s called, when it’s their turn, they’re ready.”

Series Preview: Alabama Softball

There is no letup in the schedule, with Arkansas vs Alabama up next at Bogle Park. The Crimson Tide are ranked No. 13 nationally and led by head coach Patrick Murphy, who is one of the most accomplished coaches in the SEC and has brought his team to the Women’s College World Series three of the past four years. His team is once again on a similar trajectory despite dropping the final two games of a series against Texas A&M.

After losing Montana Fouts from a year ago, who pitched over half of the innings for the 2023 team, Kayla Beaver has filled the void left by Fouts, pitching to a 1.42 ERA in 123 innings. Expect her to start both the opener and the finale of the series.

That should be a familiar name to Arkansas softball fans because Beaver is actually a transfer from UCA and actually shut out the Razorbacks in Conway last year.

“I think she has the potential to go up, down, in and out,” head coach Courtney Deifel said. “It looks like she’s added a little velo, so she lives in the upper 60s. She hits 70 and she’s very disciplined with her spin pitches and her spots.”

The Razorbacks counter with a strong arm of their own. Both pitching staffs grade well in the SEC. Alabama ranks third in ERA (1.99), while Arkansas checks in at fifth (2.24). Arkansas’ Robyn Herron is coming off her first SEC Pitcher of the Week Honor after 12 1/3 shutout innings across two appearances against South Carolina, allowing just seven hits. 

There is no doubt that both these teams rely on their pitching staffs. Over the past three weekends, in games that Arkansas has won, opponents scored 1.66 runs per game while in losses that number ballooned to 7.33. Alabama’s last four SEC wins have come by scores of 5-1 twice, 4-0 and 2-0.

Both offenses in the Arkansas vs Alabama series are still looking to click into gear, ranking in the bottom half of both batting average and on-base percentage during SEC play – although the Hogs do have a power advantage with 20 homers slugged in league play, good enough to push their slugging percentage to third in the SEC. 

Shortstop Kenleigh Cahalan is the only player in the Alabama lineup hitting over .300 in league play, while Arkansas counters with first baseman Bri Ellis and third baseman Hannah Gammill, who are tied for third with five SEC home runs apiece.

“I think that they get the job done,” Deifel said about Alabama’s offense. “I think that with their pitching staff, they have a chance to win any game that they’re in. They have a good mix of speed and I think they’ve driven the ball a little better this year, but they get the job done. They have the offense to win games with the pitching that’s as dominant as they can be.”

How to Watch Arkansas vs Alabama

Dates: Friday-Sunday, April 19-21

Location: Bogle Park (Fayetteville, Ark.)

TV/Stream: SEC Network-Plus | SEC Network | ESPNU

First Pitch

  • Friday:  6 p.m. CT (SECN+)
  • Saturday: 8 p.m. CT (SEC Network)
  • Sunday: 1 p.m. CT (ESPNU)

SEC Softball Standings

TeamSEC RecordOverall Record
1. Tennessee12-3 (.800)31-7
2. Texas A&M12-6 (.667)33-9
2. Florida10-5 (.667)35-9
4. Arkansas9-6 (.600)30-11
5. LSU10-8 (.556)34-8
6. Georgia8-7 (.533)33-10
7. Mississippi State9-9 (.500)29-12
8. Missouri7-8 (.467)33-11
8. Alabama7-8 (.467)30-10
10. South Carolina5-10 (.333)28-15-1
10. Auburn5-10 (.333)23-13-1
10. Kentucky5-10 (.333)26-15
13. Ole Miss3-12 (.200)24-19-1


More coverage of Arkansas softball from BoAS… 

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