Bears sweep Cardinals, secure No. 2 seed in Conference Tournament

CONWAY – The Central Arkansas softball team completed the series sweep of Lamar on Saturday with a doubleheader victory, with a 12-1 win in game one followed by an 11-2 win in the second. Cylla Hill, Megan Crownover and Kristen Whitehouse all launched home runs to power the UCA offense. 

With the series sweep, the Bears secured the No. 2 seed in the Southland Conference Tournament. The Bears improved to 34-17 overall and 21-6 in the Southland, while Lamar fell to 8-43 overall and 4-23 in SLC play. 

Photos by Jaden Powell/UCA Athletics

Game One – UCA 12, Lamar 1

On Friday night, Jenna Wildeman led off the bottom of the first with a single to second base. After she stole second, she stole third and an error by the catcher allowed her to score. The Bears took a 1-0 lead into the top of the second.  

The Cardinals tied the game in the top of the second on a single by Hannah Kinkade.

Emily Sampson reached base safely on a throwing error by the shortstop and was able to advance to second on the play. Erin Blackburn drew a five-pitch walk. Wildeman reached on an error by the second baseman, which allowed Sampson to score. Wildeman and Blackburn moved up a base to second and third, respectively, after a wild pitch. Mary Kate Brown grounded out to first, but drove in Blackburn from third. Kaylyn Shepherd singled through the right side and drove in Wildeman. Hill reached safely on a throwing error by the third baseman and advanced to second. Morgan Nelson singled to right field and advanced to second on the throw home, as Shepherd and Hill both scored. Tremere Harris followed with a single to third, which scored Nelson. After Harris stole second, Whitehouse singled to left and drove in Harris. UCA held an 8-1 lead after two innings of play. 

After a quick inning in the circle for Kayla Beaver in the top of the third, the game was suspended due to inclement weather and would be resumed on Saturday. 

In the bottom of the fourth, Nelson notched a one-out triple off the left field wall. Harris dropped down a bunt single that was placed perfectly between the pitcher and catcher. After Harris stole second, Whitehouse singled to the third baseman to load the bases. Sampson lined a ball to left for an RBI single as Nelson scored. Reagan Sperling reached on an error by the shortstop which allowed Harris to score. Lindsey Williams reached on an error by the second baseman as Whitehouse and Megan Crownover, who pinch ran for Sampson, scored. The Bears held a 12-1 lead as the game headed to the top of the fifth. 

In the top of the fifth, Lamar was able to get two runners on base, but Beaver induced an unassisted ground out to third to end the game. UCA won 12-1 as the run rule was enacted. 

Nelson led the Bears with a 3-for-3 game, two RBIs and two runs scored. Harris finished the game with two hits and two runs scored. As a unit, UCA tallied 12 runs on 12 hits. Beaver improved to 18-6 on the season with a complete-game effort, her 17th of the season. She recorded seven strikeouts and surrendered one unearned run on just three hits. 

Shelby Mixon fell to 3-16 on the season with her complete game. She gave up 12 runs, one earned, on 12 hits and had two strikeouts. 

Game Two – UCA 11, Lamar 2

In the bottom of the second, Erin Acors led off the inning with a single to right field. Williams’ pinch ran for Acors. Whitehouse reached on a throwing error by the third baseman and moved Williams to third. After Whitehouse stole second, Harris placed a perfect bunt that stopped rolling right before it made it to the first base line. Tyler Vernon flew out to right field and an error by the right fielder throwing the ball back into the infield allowed Williams to score from third. 

Brown led off the bottom of the third with a double to left center. Shepherd followed with a five-pitch walk. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Hill blasted a three-run homer over the left field wall and extended the UCA lead to 4-0 after three innings of play. 

Lamar cut the lead in half on an RBI single by Victoria Garivey and an RBI single by Aleka Xayaseng.

In the bottom of the fifth, Acors singled to second base. Crownover pinch ran for Acors. Whitehouse moved Crownover to second with a sac bunt to third. Harris drew a walk to give UCA runners on first and second. Nelson singled through the left side and advanced to second on the throw home as Crownover scored. Blackburn notched a bunt single to third and scored Harris from third. After Blackburn stole second, Brown produced a bunt single to third and scored Nelson. The Bears took a 7-2 lead into the top of the sixth. 

UCA started the bottom of the sixth off with a bang as Crownover and Whitehouse belted back-to-back home runs. Callie Eary followed with a single to right field. Lexi McClellan singled to right field and advanced to second as the right fielder made an error. Sperling lined a triple in the right center gap and drove in two runs to enforce the run rule as the Bears won game two 11-2. 

Rio Sanchez got the start in the circle for the Bears, but got the no decision. She went 3.1 innings and gave up two runs on eight hits with one strikeout.  Jaylee Engelkes picked up the win and moved to 1-0 on the season. She pitched 2.2 innings of scoreless relief with three strikeouts. 

Aaliyha Ruiz got the loss and fell to 3-10 on the year. She gave up seven runs, six earned, on 10 hits with two strikeouts. Mixon did not record an out and gave up back-to-back home runs. Breanna Reyna came in to pitch and did not record an out. She gave up two runs, one earned, on three hits. Xayaseng led the Cardinals with a 2-for-3 game with an RBI.

The Bears return to action for the SLC Tournament in Hammond, Louisiana, on Wednesday, May 12. UCA will face the winner of game No. 4, which will either be the No. 3, No. 6, or No. 7 seed. First pitch for the Bears is scheduled to be at 1:30 p.m. All times are subject to change. 

From the Coach – Head Coach David Kuhn

“What a great weekend for the Bears! A sweep at home with graduation on Friday night on the field and Senior Day on Saturday! We got some outstanding pitching performances from all of our pitchers in Rio, Jaylee, Kayla, and Jordan. We had some great hitting all weekend and had solid defense. It’s huge to be the No. 2 seed going into the conference tournament. I’m really excited for the postseason and it’s a great opportunity to keep playing.”