FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas did it again.
This time, Razorbacks coach Courtney Deifel sent Rylin Hedgecock off the bench up to pinch-hit in the sixth and she delivered.
It was, Deifel said later, a “no brainer.”
“She is an incredibly talented hitter,” she said after Hedgecock’s three-RBI double keyed a six-run rally in the sixth inning for a 9-3 win over Oregon.
“She just does a really good job of staying level,” Deifel said, “not making anything too big. She was in our lineup early and she’s just been knocking on that all year.”
Which does tell you how good the Hogs’ lineup is.
The “spirit squirrel” from Saturday’s game may or may not have had something to do with it. They have it as headgear in the Hogs’ dugout.
Arkansas had a pair of hits early go to the warning track that may have gone out had it not been for the unseasonably cold weather.
The coming of the ice age couldn’t make the air heavy enough to keep Lennie Malkin in Bogle Park as she hit a homero to deep left in the second.
Then, just like Saturday afternoon, Kacie Hoffman followed with another home run of her own and a 2-0 lead just 26 pitches into the game.
The Hogs over-reacted to a deflected grounder in the bottom of the fourth. Instead of simply throwing the ball in and keeping a double-play possibility with a 3-1 lead, they turned into the Keystone Kops.
A pair of throwing errors trying to throw runners out that took a quality hit and turned it into a 3-3 tie.
“That’s just not what we do,” Deifel said.
Pitcher Mary Haff shrugged it off.
“She stayed the course after that,” Deifel said.
Haff gave up three hits after that, but with a six-run lead in the seventh it was quick work to lock down the win and send the Hogs to a Super Regional that starts this week at Bogle Park.
Taylor Ellsworth singled, Danielle Gibson reached on a fielder’s choice and Hannah Gammill walked to load the bases for Arkansas with no outs in the sixth.
Malkin, who broke a scoreless tie with a three-run home run against Makenna Kliethermes on Saturday, was called out looking at a 1-2 pitch that appeared to be outside the strike zone.
That brought Kacie Hoffman to the plate. Kliethermes threw away the first pitch, which scored Cally Kildow, who pinch-ran for Ellsworth.
Hoffman was intentionally walked to load the bases again. After Audrie LaValley lined out the shortstop, Hedgecock doubled to center field on a 3-2 pitch. The ball went off the glove of Oregon center fielder Jasmine Williams, who was retreating toward the outfield wall.
The Hogs (school record 47-9) advanced to a home Super Regional that will begin Friday or Saturday at Bogle Park. They will host the winner of the Seattle Regional championship between Washington and Texas.