Hope McLemore threw 6.1 innings of no-hit softball and the University of Arkansas softball team blanked the No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats, 4-0, on Saturday at Bogle Park.
Arkansas (30-16, 8-9) was paced by its senior captain, McLemore, in the circle. The Ringling, Okla. native went 6.1 scoreless innings and struck out 10 batters, while walking three. Her senior classmate, Chelsea Cohen, came on to get the final two outs of the game and give Arkansas its 30th win of the season. This was the first time Kentucky had been no hit since April 14, 2009, when Alabama’s Kelsi Dunne blanked the Wildcats.
“I am really pleased with Hope McLemore,” head coach Mike Larabee said. “I thought she was in command. She did a great job keeping batters off-balance. Cohen came in with the bases loaded and she stayed tough and got the job done. McLemore gave a talk to our team last night and today she walked the talk.”
The Razorbacks benefited from three homeruns in the game after hitting two in game one. Clarisa Navarro belted a two-run homer in the third inning. Jennifer Rambo crushed her fourth homerun in her last four games against the Wildcats in the fourth inning and freshman Nicole Schroeder skied a ball over the fence in the sixth.
“Clarisa Navarro got us going,” Larabee said. “Then Jennifer Rambo, the wildcat killer, hit a bomb. Then Nicole Schroeder hit one out to right-center. It was nice to see her get in hitter’s counts today. She is much better when she is not down in the count.”
McLemore came out of the gate strong and worked a 1-2-3 first inning. She struck out Alice O’ Brien and Lauren Cumbess in the top of the first.
She retired her fourth straight batter to start the second, but walked Nikki Sagermann with one out. However, she battled back and struck out Ansley Smith in the next at-bat. Two batters later she got Christian Stokes to chase a changeup and retired the side.
Rambo drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the second. Two batters later Jayme Gee singled to put two runners on for Amanda Geile. She worked a 3-1 count but then grounded a ball to second and Gee was retired to end the inning.
Wallace drew her NCAA-leading 64th walk of the season to start the third. She was advanced to second by Stephanie Canfield on the next pitch. Chloe Oprzedek then lined out to bring up Navarro. She towered a two-out, two-run homer over the leftfield wall. Her fifth long-ball of the season gave the Hogs a 2-0 lead after three.
Rambo started off the fourth inning with a bang. She skied a solo-homerun over the leftfield fence, this was her second homerun of the series after having two last season against the Wildcats.
McLemore came out to work the fifth inning and stayed solid in the circle. She struck out Krystal Smith and O’Brien in the inning to give her nine in the game. This was the most strikeouts for McLemore since March 5, 2011, when she had nine against East Tennessee State.
The senior captain also worked a scoreless sixth. She got Griffin Joiner and Cumbess to fly out before gunning down Carroll on strikes. This gave McLemore 10 strikeouts in the game.
Schroeder gave McLemore one more insurance run in the bottom of the sixth as she skied a solo-homerun over the rightfield fence. Her eighth of the season gave Arkansas a 4-0 lead.
McLemore started the seventh inning with a fly-out from Sagermann down the first-base line. She then walked Maisie Steed and hit Sarah Frazer to put two runners on for Stokes. She grounded a ball to Sierra Bronkey at second base. Bronkey tried to throw out Frazer at second but she slid in safely. The bases were loaded for Kelsey Nunley and McLemore walked off the field to a standing ovation. Cohen came in and struck out Nunley on four pitches. She then got O’Brien to lineout to third base and capped Arkansas’ 4-0 win.