UA rolls in opener
Three Arkansas pitchers combined on a two-hitter, while Danielle Gibson doubled twice and drove in a run to lead No. 9 Arkansas to a 4-0 win over Rutgers to open the season Thursday in the Puerto Vallarta (Mexico) College Challenge.
Gibson’s two-out RBI double in the first inning put the Razorbacks in front to stay. She also doubled and scored in a three-run Arkansas third inning. Linnie Malkin’s two-out single with the bases loaded drove in a run and two more runs scored when the ball got past the Rutgers left fielder for an error and the Razorbacks led 4-0.
That would be more than enough as Mary Haff, Callie Turner and Chenise Delce combined on a two-hitter.
Haff picked up the win, throwing four scoreless innings, striking out two and not issuing a walk. Turner and Delce combined to throw the final three innings.
The Razorbacks play twice today in Mexico, facing Memphis at 12:30 p.m., then taking on No. 7 Washington at 8:30 p.m.
Big TV numbers for Hogs-Tigers
ESPN2 registered its largest television audience for a regular-season college basketball game in more than three years Tuesday night when Arkansas defeated No. 1 Auburn at Walton Arena in Fayetteville.
According to ESPN’s public relations department, the audience for the game peaked at 1.96 million viewers during overtime. The Razorbacks won 80-76.
Arkansas fans stormed the court as the final buzzer sounded, a celebration that was replayed on highlight shows into the following day. The Razorbacks were fined $250,000 by the SEC office for the fans coming onto the floor.
ESPN2 averaged 999,000 viewers each time the audience size was measured, according to figures posted at ShowBuzzDaily.com. It was the second-most watched college basketball game of the night, just behind the average of 1.03 million for Illinois-Purdue on ESPN.
According to ESPN PR, it was the most-watched game on ESPN2 since December 2018.
UALR’s Arnold, ASU’s Klutts honored
University of Arkansas-Little Rock starting pitcher Hayden Arnold and Arkansas State third baseman Ben Klutts were named to the preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team, the league announced Thursday.
Arnold, a Rison native and Watson Chapel alum, is the reigning Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year after he logged 84 strikeouts over 85 innings for the Trojans with a 3.07 ERA. Arnold was also a first-team all-conference selection after posting a league-best 1.54 ERA in Sun Belt games.
Klutts added to his 2022 preseason recognition — Perfect Game already listed the Poteau, Okla., native on their preseason All-Sun Belt squad and D1 Baseball listed him as one of the nation’s top 50 third basemen. Last year, Klutts led the Red Wolves with 63 hits, batting .320 with a .518 slugging percentage and 7 home runs.
— Mitchell Gladstone
LaBounty returns as ASU assistant
Drew LaBounty, who served as a volunteer assistant at Arkansas State University in 2020, was named the Red Wolves’ new assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Thursday.
LaBounty spent last season as an assistant at Pensacola State College, where he helped the Pirates to a 28-20 record, including a 17-7 mark in Panhandle Conference play. He replaces Rick Guarno, who left ASU after four seasons to pursue an opportunity with the New York Yankees organization.
UCA to play Stephen F. Austin in 2022
University of Central Arkansas football is slated for a trip to Nacogdoches, Texas, this fall, as Stephen F. Austin released its 2022 football schedule Wednesday, with a matchup against the Bears listed for Nov. 12.
The Bears and Lumberjacks last played on Nov. 13 in Conway, with UCA suffering a 27-14 loss. UCA has an 8-3 record against Stephen F. Austin.
UCA has three other games scheduled for the upcoming season — Missouri State on Sept. 1 in Conway; Mississippi on Sept. 10 in Oxford, Miss.; and Idaho State on Sept. 17 in Pocatello, Idaho — though its conference schedule has yet to be released.
— Adam Cole
Godfrey withdraws from transfer portal
University of Central Arkansas defensive back Cameron Godfrey announced Thursday he was withdrawing his name from the transfer portal and returning to Conway for the 2022 season.
Godfrey, who had the sixth-most tackles for the Bears last season, announced he was entering the portal on Feb. 2. Since that announcement, he’d publicly posted one offer, from Towson State.
The defensive back is one of 11 UCA players to have entered the portal since November. Of those 11, Godfrey is one of three who have either returned to the program or have yet to announce to which school they’re transferring.
— Adam Cole
Harding’s Dodd earns weekly honor
Harding University sophomore Grace Dodd was named the Great American Conference’s women’s player of the week Thursday.
Dodd picked up two victories as the Lady Bisons opened the spring season with a 7-0 win against Ouachita Baptist University. She paired with Jing Yang for a 6-3 win in No. 1 doubles. Dodd picked up a 6-1, 6-0 victory against Makeilah Turner in singles play.
ATU’s Jacobs tabbed
Arkansas Tech University junior Francois Jacobs was honored Thursday as the Great American Conference’s men’s golfer of the week.
Jacobs led the Wonder Boys to a 24-shot victory at the Houston Classic. Jacobs won the individual title in a playoff that featured teammate Santiago De La Fuente. He posted his best round of the event, a 4-under 68 in the final round and won with a birdie on the first extra hole.
— Democrat-Gazette Press Services