Friday was a historic day for the No. 23 Central Arkansas softball team, sweeping Lipscomb and winning a program-record 39th game after two games. The Bears rolled the Bisons 32-1 over three games, dominating in all three phases of the game.
Game Two: Central Arkansas 8, Lipscomb 0
The Bears came out after celebrating senior day to prove a point, and that point was repeatedly drilled into the minds of everyone in attendance over the course of six innings. Kayla Beaver and the defense came out and made quick work of the top of the Lipscomb order, sitting down the side in order in the first.
Tremere Harris led off for the Bears, crushing a triple to the centerfield fence to amp up the home team. Though she would get caught trying to go home on a wild pitch, her energy helped set the tone for the rest of the lineup. Kylie Griffin walked and stole second to get in scoring position with two outs. Mary Kate Brown also walked, with ball four sailing over the catcher’s head to allow Griffin to get to third. Then, with a runner 60 feet from scoring, Morgan Nelson reached on a throwing error that allowed Griffin to score and the inning to continue. What that enabled was a Colleen Bare double that drove in Brown from second for a quick 2-0 lead.
Central Arkansas poured it on in the home half of the second, starting with a Jenna Wildeman single and stolen base. Wildeman reached third a couple of batters later on a Griffin single, and scored on a Madi Young hit that saw her get to second. Brown doubled to left field to send both Griffin and Young home, stretching the lead to five. The Atkins, Ark., native moved to third on a wild pitch as Nelson walked, and then home on a wild pitch as Bare walked, opening up a 6-0 run after just two innings.
Brown would continue to see success at the plate in the third, driving home Griffin after the third baseman reached second after singling and moving to second on a fielder’s choice.
It would take until the sixth inning for the Bears to walk off the Bisons in the first game, with Wildeman reaching base on a single. The outfielder stole second for her third swipe of the game, getting in scoring position with two outs. Enter Griffin, who punched a double to left field to drive Wildeman home, ending the game in six innings.
Beaver picked up win number 20 on the year, marking the third-straight year with 20-plus wins. The redshirt junior pitcher gave up just a single hit while striking out five. Beaver threw an efficient 64 pitches to get through six innings, compared to 188 by the two Bison pitchers.
Game Three: Central Arkansas 12, Lipscomb 0
Playing her final home game, Jordan Johnson got the start to close the series, and the redshirt senior started it off throwing straight filth. Striking out two of the three in the first, Johnson’s ability to mix and match pitches had Lipscomb batters guessing all game long.
It would take the Bear offense, however, just two innings to score its first run. Colleen Bare led off with a single to left, and senior Jaylee Engelkes followed her up with a titanic home run. Engelkes’ bomb cleared not just the fence in left center, but also the berm beyond the left center fence, an estimated 260 feet. Jenna Wildeman walked a couple of at bats later to reestablish a base runner, and scored two hitters later on a Kylie Griffin double. Griffin then stole third, and an errant throw by the catcher allowed her to score another run.
Already up 4-0, Central Arkansas continued to put in work. Morgan Curley established herself on base on a fielder’s choice, and three consecutive singles by Widleman, Tremere Harris and Griffin scored another pair of runs. Madi Young walked to load the bases, and back-to-back singles by Mary Kate Brown and Morgan Nelson put the lead at nine runs.
Central Arkansas loaded the bases in the fourth, an unrelenting wave of offense over the entire weekend. Engelkes and Curley both walked, Wildeman replacing Engelkes on a fielder’s choice. Harris walked the bases loaded, and Griffin cleared the bases with a double to left field.
Johnson struck out a pair in the fifth to solidify the win, the historic 39th win of 2023. The fifth-year pitcher ended the regular season with a perfect 13-0 in ASUN games, while lowering her opponent batting average to .165.
For the series, Mary Kate Brown batted an absurd .875, getting out just once all series. As a team, the Bears hit .506 across 77 at bats, with 20 walks to just five strikeouts at the plate. The tandem of Beaver and Johnson allowed just a single run in three games, it being unearned, turning in a perfect 0.00 ERA this weekend. The duo struck out 17 while allowing nine total hits, two walks and one hit batter, for 12 total baserunners. This weekend was the first time in school history that Central Arkansas has run ruled an opponent for an entire series, doing so in three-straight games.
Next on the docket for the Bears is the ASUN Championship, where the Bears await an opponent for next Thursday’s quarterfinal game. Taking place in DeLand, Fla., first pitch is set for 11:30 a.m. CT.
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