Former Arkansas Softball Coach Returns Home to Take On Beast She Helped Feed

Courtney Deifel, Jordan Clark, Arkansas softball, FAU softball
photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

Bogle Park is hosting familiar faces this weekend and it’s not just because Arkansas softball is continuing its 17-game home stand. The annual Wooo Pig Classic features Florida Atlantic, which is led by former Razorback volunteer assistant coach and Arkansas native Jordan Clark.

Part of head coach Courtney Deifel’s first staff in Fayetteville, Clark spent three seasons at Arkansas and helped turn the program around. Once a bottomfeeder in the SEC that regularly lost to mid-majors like FAU, the Razorbacks are now a perennial top-25 team competing for conference titles and hosting regionals.

When Clark left Arkansas in 2018 to become an assistant coach at Ohio State, Deifel said she will always be grateful Clark was a part of the Razorback softball family. 

“She has been instrumental in the success we have had here at Arkansas and her impact will continue even after her departure,” Deifel said in 2018. “She is an incredible leader, an avid worker and is going to put everything into it. Jordan is one of the brightest young coaches in the game and Ohio State will benefit greatly from her being on staff.”

After four seasons with the Buckeyes, Clark landed her first head coaching gig at Florida Atlantic. She led the Owls to a 35-20 record last year – their most wins since 2017 – and is now in her second year at the helm. They’re off to a solid 13-4 start, with one of those losses actually coming against Arkansas – an 8-0 five-inning run-rule on Feb. 8.

That matchup took place at Florida Atlantic as part of the Paradise Classic. Now the Owls will return the favor and head to Fayetteville for what will be a homecoming for Clark in more ways than one. Not only did she coach at Arkansas, but before playing at Miami (Ohio) in college, she starred at Marion High School — which is also home to the latest Arkansas football commit.

However, any warm feelings about facing the once-struggling program Clark was part of six years ago will likely go out the window when the two teams square off at 5:30 p.m. CT Friday, as Clark will realize she’s now taking on a beast she helped feed in its home environment.

“I think the world of Jordan,” Deifel said Wednesday morning. “When she worked with us for those three years, it was her first dose of college coaching… You could see right away she had something really special about the way she coached, the way she motivated, the way the players responded to her.

“We just knew that she was made for this. To see her come into her own and lead the program at FAU, it’s really fun. It’s like a proud moment, knowing she kinda came from our tree here.”

(READ NEXT: It’ll be tough to top Robyn Herron’s performance last weekend at Bogle.)

Scouting FAU Softball

2023 Record: 35-20 (15-9 C-USA)
2024 Record: 13-4
All Time Series: FAU leads 6-2 (Arkansas won most recent matchup 8-0 earlier this month)
Head Coach: Jordan Clark (2nd season as head coach)

Florida Atlantic will come to Fayetteville riding a five-game winning streak after nearly sweeping its home tournament, the Owl Classic. It went 5-1, losing only to Boston College by two runs.

The 13-4 record has largely been the result of strong pitching. Five different FAU pitchers have seen the circle this season and all have an ERA lower than 2.50. Reigning Conference USA Pitcher of the Year Gabby Sacco, a junior right-hander, leads the way with a 5-1 record and 1.65 ERA, followed closely by Maryland transfer Trinity Schlotterbeck (5-2, 1.74 ERA).

They have helped the Owls post six shutouts this season and keep most opposing offenses at bay. That’s been the case even in defeat, with three of their losses coming by 3-2, 2-1 and 2-0 scores.

Arkansas is the only top-25 team Florida Atlantic has played and the Hogs scored 8 runs in five innings, but it has played well against the likes of Penn State (L, 3-2), Michigan State (W, 4-2), Louisville (split two games), Michigan (W, 1-0) and Boston College (L, 2-0).

“I don’t think we got their best version our first time out,” Deifel said. “We expect that (game) to be a battle. They’re a team that’s just really gritty, they’re very much like the personality of Jordan (Clark). Their offense just puts the ball in play a lot, they have really good balance on offense. They have pitchers that do a great job. We got (Trinity) Schlotterbeck when we were there, who’s pitching very well for them, and we just didn’t get her best version.”

Scouting South Dakota State Softball

2023 Record: 39-19 (17-0 MVC)
2024 Record: 8-10
All Time Series: Arkansas leads 3-0 (Most recent wins 4-3 on Thursday and 4-0 in May 2021)
Head Coach: Kristina McSweeney (2nd seasons as head coach)

Fifteen games into the season, the Jackrabbits are hitting .294 as a team, with senior Emma Osmundson leading the way with a .455 batting average — not to mention a whopping 1.306 OPS.

In the circle, South Dakota State has a team ERA of 4.47. That isn’t particularly impressive, but the Jackrabbits do have an ace in senior Tori Kniesche. The two-time Summit League Pitcher of the Year owns a 3.34 ERA, is holding opponents to a .194 batting average and has 59 strikeouts in 44 innings.

“They have really great pitching,” Deifel said. “Pitching that is similar to ours in the way that they really compliment each other. And they swing big, so they’ve always been a team that scores a lot of runs.

“They seem to have kind of been up and down, through the course of their schedule so far… It’s just early, and I think they’re still trying to figure out who they are, so I imagine we’ll get their best game this weekend.”  

In terms of opponents, the Jackrabbits have gone 0-4 against two top-25 teams, Missouri and Oklahoma State. Looking ahead to this weekend, they’ll take on another in No. 14 Arkansas.

Scouting SEMO Softball

2023 Record: 29-14 (20-2 in NCAA Ohio Valley Conference)
2024 Record: 4-9
All Time Series: Arkansas leads 9-2 (Most recent win 14-0 from May 2022)
Head Coach: Mark Redburn (10 seasons as head coach)

Southeast Missouri hasn’t started this season off very well, to say the least, losing more than two-thirds of its games so far. The RedHawks actually have more run-rule losses (5) than wins (4).

Freshman Sophie Schupp leads the team with a .429 batting average and the next closest is junior Aubrie Shore at .385. With nearly a third of the team being freshmen, SEMO certainly sits on the younger side. It does have seven seniors to provide veteran leadership, including two who own the RedHawks’ top five batting averages, but the other three belong to freshmen.

On the pitching side of things, it’s split 50/50 between the upperclassmen and the rookies. Leading the rotation is freshman Tegan Livesay with the lowest ERA at 3.57 with an 0-2 record. 

“SEMO is always good,” Deifel said. “Mark (Redburn) does a really good job. They’re putting up a lot of runs, so we have a big challenge up in front of us.”

How to Watch the Wooo Pig Classic

Dates: Feb. 29 – March 3

Location: Bogle Park (Fayetteville, Ark.)

TV/Stream: Live stats on // Streaming: SEC Network+

Schedule for Arkansas Softball


  • Arkansas 4, South Dakota State 3: Facing her first batter since tossing a perfect game, Robyn Herron gave up a home run to start the South Dakota State game. The Razorbacks answered with three runs of their own in the home half of the first, but eventually blew the lead. A two-out RBI double by Kennedy Miller broke a 3-3 tie in the fourth and Hannah Camenzind was perfect in 3 1/3 innings to close out the game and earn the victory.


  • Arkansas vs Southeast Missouri State  — 3 p.m. CT
  • Arkansas vs Florida Atlantic  — 5:30 p.m. CT


  • Arkansas vs South Dakota State — 3 p.m. CT


  • Arkansas vs Southeast Missouri State — 12:15 p.m. CT


Courtney Deifel previews Arkansas softball’s upcoming appearance in the Woo Pig Classic:

YouTube video

More on Arkansas softball from a national perspective starting at 5:15 below:

YouTube video

More coverage of Arkansas softball from BoAS… 

Facebook Comments