How Arkansas softball beat Texas in Game 1 of NCAA Tournament super regional

Christina Long
Fort Smith Times Record
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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas softball's 2022 season has been full of milestones, records and firsts. On Thursday, the Razorbacks added another: their first super regional win.

The Razorbacks are playing in their third super, but in their last two, they were swept and eliminated. Now, they're one win away from their first Women's College World Series.

Thursday's 7-1 win over Texas was also Arkansas' first win against the Longhorns in softball, making the Razorbacks 1-6 all-time against them.

No. 4-seed Arkansas (48-9) and Texas (41-19-1) will play Game 2 at 5:30 p.m. CT Friday (ESPN). 

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Fifth inning breaks deadlock

Texas pitcher Hailey Dolcini showed little fatigue in her start, at least until the fifth inning. The senior right-hander threw more than 300 pitches in about 28 hours in last weekend's regional against Washington.

On Thursday, she found herself locked in a pitcher's duel with Arkansas star Chenise Delce. She was holding her own until the fifth.

Arkansas and Texas were scoreless for 4½ innings. They combined for eight hits in that span and were 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position. Only Arkansas had a hit with runners on at all, going 1-for-14 until the Razorbacks came to bat in the fifth.

Hannah McEwen led off with a double, and Texas opted to intentionally walk Danielle Gibson with one out. That brought up Hannah Gammill, arguably just as big a threat. Gammill delivered, getting a single through the gap to drive in McEwen.

Linnie Malkin followed with a single, and an error on first baseman Katie Cimusz on a ground ball by Kacie Hoffmann allowed two more runs. The error was Texas' 70th of the year, the second-most in the Big 12. Another error in the sixth, this time by third baseman Mia Scott, brought in two more runs.

Dolcini came out of the game. She finished with seven hits, two earned runs, four walks and four strikeouts in 4⅓ innings.

Chenise Delce dealing

On the other side of the battle between aces was Chenise Delce. Her final line of six hits, one earned run, one walk and six strikeouts was impressive, but she also managed to get out of some serious jams.

To the credit of both Delce and Dolcini, both offenses got their leadoff hitters on in the first 2½ innings without scoring. In the third, Delce hit the first batter she faced. The runner advanced on a sacrifice bunt, but Delce got a flyout and a strikeout to avoid damage.

The biggest threat from Texas came in the fifth. The Longhorns led off with back-to-back singles by Cimusz and Lauren Burke. Arkansas intentionally walked Janae Jefferson to load the bases, but Delce got a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning.

Christina Long covers the Arkansas Razorbacks. You can email her at clong@swtimes.com or follow her on Twitter @christinalong00.

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