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Razorbacks take series against Alabama

FAYETTEVILLE -- Alabama's dominance over Arkansas in softball has apparently come to an end, for now.

After winning just once in the previous 43 meetings with the Crimson Tide, the Razorbacks have now won two straight following Sunday's 6-3 victory at Bogle Park. It also marks first time No. 19 Arkansas (33-9, 8-7 SEC) has ever beaten No. 15 Alabama (26-13, 7-8) in a series. The two teams did split a pair of four-game series in 1997-98.

"Every series is big, but to be able to come in and take a series from Alabama is uncharted territory for our program," Arkansas coach Courtney Deifel said. "This team just keeps pushing themselves further and giving themselves more and more confidence. They are now at a spot that they know they can beat anybody."

After tossing 106 pitches in Saturday's 3-0 complete-game shutout, freshman ace Mary Haff (20-3, 1.16 ERA) continued to baffle the Alabama lineup on Sunday. After striking out nine Tide batters on Saturday, Haff threw 114 pitches and whiffed four more Sunday with only one walk. She now has 185 strikeouts in 143.2 innings this season.

"It definitely was a grind, because I don't think I had my best stuff today," said Haff, who is the first pitcher in the Southeastern Conference to reach the 20-win plateau this season. "I was basically just trying to stay in the zone and let my defense work behind me, which they did an awesome job. We came out with the W, so that's all the really matters."

It looked like the Razorbacks' day from the beginning, when the first three Arkansas batters reached to load the bases in the bottom of the first inning. Hannah McEwen led off with a lined single to right. Autumn Buczek and Katie Warrick then reached with consecutive infield hits.

Freshman Kayla Green lofted a sacrifice fly to center, allowing McEwen to score the first run. With an errant throw to the plate, Buczek also motored home with a head-first slide, making it 2-0.

Arkansas added another run in the third on back-to-back doubles from Green and Ashley Diaz, making it 3-0.

Alabama did have a pair of base runners in each of the first two innings, but Haff was able to weather the storm each time.

"Mary is just so steady for us," Deifel said. "She's so consistent, so tough. If you watch her, her demeanor is so confident that it spills over to everyone else."

Arkansas added three more runs in the sixth to increase the margin to five.

The Tide was able to make some noise in the top of the seventh, as Tow hit her second homer of the game, a 2-run shot over the right field fence to trim the lead to three. But after a quick mound visit from Deifel, Haff got Gabby Callaway -- who hit the game-deciding home run in Friday night's game -- to ground out to first base and end the game.

The Razorbacks will travel to Auburn for a three-game series beginning Friday night. They return home to host Ole Miss for three, beginning April 28.

Sports on 04/16/2018

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