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Softball Drops Extra-Inning Heartbreaker at No. 18 Arkansas In Series Opener, 6-5

Casey Bigham
Casey Bigham

Fayetteville, Ark. -- Ashley Benz lined a sacrifice fly to left-center field in the bottom of the 12th to drive in Kayla Green and hand 18th-ranked Arkansas a 6-5, come-from-behind victory over Furman in 12 innings Saturday in the non-conference softball series opener at a rainy Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Ark.

After Furman's Casey Bigham broke a 4-4 tie with a solo homer to left field in the top of the 12th, Arkansas' Katie Warrick reached on an infield single to start the bottom of the 12th and advanced to third base when Green reached safely on an errant throw on her sacrifice bunt attempt. Sydney Parr drove in pinch runner Ryan Jackson with a sacrifice fly and Haydi Bugarin followed with a double past a diving Cammy Pereira in left field to put runners at second and third with one out. Pereira made a running grab on Benz's line drive to left-center, but Green scored without a throw to give the Razorbacks (29-14) the 6-5 decision.

Mary Haff (14-9) earned the victory for Arkansas after fanning a career-best 16 batters in seven and two-thirds innings of relief work. She allowed just three hits, including the solo blast by Bigham in the top of the 12th.

Furman right-hander Emily DeMonte (8-13) took the loss despite allowing just four earned runs over 11 and two-thirds innings or work that included 200 pitches. The senior struck out four batters and walked just two in her longest career outing.

Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Lauren Duggar reached to the top of the centerfield fence to make an inning-ending catch and deny Warrick a three-run homer. Furman mounted a comeback in the top of the fifth with Pereira reaching on a one-out single and Bigham lining a double to center field before sophomore Marissa Guimbarda hammered her SoCon-leading 13th home run of the season, a 3-run blast, to center field to knot the game at 4-4.

Haff entered the game in relief for Arkansas following Guimbarda's homer and held the Paladins without a run for the next six innings, while DeMonte tossed seven consecutive scoreless innings from the fifth through the 11th for Furman.

Bigham finished 3-for-6 with a double and a homer, while Guimbarda went 2-for-5 with three RBIs. Tess Griswold also collected two hits for the Paladins.

Hannah McEwen, Danielle Gibson and Ashley Diaz each totaled two hits apiece for the Razorbacks, including a double and a homer from Gibson.

Furman (10-27) and Arkansas will conclude their three-game series with an 11 a.m. ET doubleheader on Sunday at Bogle Park. The series was originally scheduled for two games on Saturday and one on Sunday, but inclement weather forced the schedule change. Both games on Sunday will be streamed live on SEC Network+.