Claremore Daily Progress

April 5, 2013

SOFTBALL: Arkansas welcomes No. 13 LSU to Bogle Park

Arkansas Media Relations
Arkansas Media Relations

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The University of Arkansas softball team will host No. 13 LSU in a weekend series at Bogle Park. Game one is slated for Friday at 6 p.m.



Arkansas (25-13) will try to continue its four-game winning streak in game one on Friday. The 6 p.m. start features free pizza to all UA students. Game two will be on Saturday at 1 p.m. and can be seen on CST. Game two also features one dollar tickets for fans attending the game at Bogle Park. The series finale is Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games will be available on Razorvision and on 88.3 FM in Fayetteville.



“We played LSU very tough last season,” head coach Mike Larabee said. “They made it to the world series last year and they have improved offensively. We don’t have to play perfect but we are going to have to play excellent softball to beat them and to win the series. Our players are confident.”



The No. 13 LSU Tigers have posted a 31-7 record overall and a 7-2 record in SEC play. The team is led in hitting by Jacee Blades. The junior from Baton Rouge, La. is hitting .371 in her 36 starts. Also hitting well for LSU has been Rikki Alcaraz. The sophomore is batting .368 in her 19 starts and has also notched 15 RBI. Leading the team in homeruns, with eight, is a freshman, Bianka Bell.



The Tigers are ultimately led by their pitching staff and senior Rachele Fico. The veteran has posted 18 wins this season and leads the SEC with 173 strikeouts. She has also garnered a 1.83 ERA in her 145 innings pitched.



“Rachele Fico is one of the top-five pitchers in the country,” Larabee said. “We are going to have to get timely hits to beat her. We have to do a great job when we have chances to drive runs in this weekend.”



Arkansas will counter Fico with their stud-sophomore, Devon Wallace. She was named the National Player of the Week by CollegeSportsMadness.com and the SEC Player of the Week by the conference office for her exceptional performance in Arkansas’ sweep of No. 22 Georgia. She went 5-for- 8 (.625) in the three games last weekend against the Bulldogs. The Double Oak, Texas native homered in all three games of the series, including a walk-off grand slam in game two. She also scored three runs and knocked in seven RBI in the series. The 2012 SEC Freshman of the Year walked three times against the Bulldogs, increasing her walk total to an SEC-leading 46. Wallace is now five walks away from breaking the UA career record of 103. She also leads the SEC this season with a .636 on base percentage and is second with 44 runs scored. The leadoff hitter for the Hogs is third in the SEC with a .429 average and tied for fourth with 12 homeruns.



“She worked hard last week,” Larabee said. “She put in extra time with our coaching staff and worked alone on her swing. Devon came out and got right back to where she was before the Florida series.”



The pitching staff was also superb last weekend as Chelsea Cohen started all three games against No. 22 Georgia. She garnered two wins and gave up four runs in her 16 innings pitched. Her classmate, Hope McLemore was inserted into game three and threw five shutout innings. McLemore received her fourth win of the season after giving up only two hits and striking out five.



“That was the best I have seen Hope throw in a long time,” Larabee said. “She had a great demeanor and went with her top pitches. We didn’t try to throw many pitchers, just our top two, and they competed well.”



Arkansas was swept by LSU last season and the team has not defeated the Tigers in their last 11 tries. Arkansas is 8-48, all-time, against the Bayou Bengals.



Game two of the LSU series will be on Saturday at 1 p.m. and fans are encouraged to purchase one dollar tickets to the Saturday game. The series finale will be Sunday at 1 p.m. in Bogle Park.