Photo courtesy of Arkansas athletics
Arkansas softball team has fought its way to No. 4 in the country in the latest D1Softball Poll and to the top spot in the SEC.
This is the highest national ranking in program history. After clinching the regular season SEC title for the second year in a row, there is no doubt Arkansas is one of the most dominant teams in the country.
The Razorbacks swept No. 9 Florida in Gainesville, for the first time ever. After sweeping South Carolina this past weekend, Arkansas has set itself up to likely host a regional.
The program has come a long way under head coach Courtney Diefel, reigning SEC Coach of the Year. The Razorbacks went 1-23 in SEC play in Diefel’s first year in 2016, 19-5 in 2021, and 17-4 so far this season. This team is so beloved in Fayetteville that every single player was offered an NIL deal from local car dealership, Everett Buick GMC.
Junior pitcher Chenise Delce has been dealing in the circle, picking up NFCA and SEC Pitcher of the Week honors following the sweep of Florida. Her 1.30 ERA leads the SEC.
Delce also has 138 strikeouts on the season, and five shutouts. Delce is a transfer from Tulsa, and expects to appear in her hometown of Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series this year. When it comes to stellar pitching for Arkansas however, Delce is not alone.
Senior Mary Haff, 2021 SEC Pitcher of the Year, was named SEC Pitcher of the Week following the recent sweep of South Carolina. The senior celebrated Senior Day with a shutout and six strikeouts in an 8-0 victory over South Carolina on Sunday.
At the plate, Danielle Gibson was named a top 10 finalist for USA Collegiate Player of the Year. She has been fantastic with a .451 batting average and 16 home runs so far. Gibson is the program’s all-time leader in total bases.
As is the case with pitching, the Arkansas offense is far from a one-woman show.
Linnie Mulkin holds the program’s single-season RBI record with 59. Alabama transfer KB Sides has been a menace on base paths with 27 steals this season and 55 runs scored.
Texas graduate transfer Taylor Ellsworth has raked 14 home runs and 52 RBIs. She has had three games with multiple homers this season. Hannah McEwen was just named SEC Player of the Week after tallying nine hits, three runs, and nine RBIs in the recent sweep of South Carolina.
The Razorbacks have hit 91 home runs so far this season. The team leads the conference with eight weekly honors throughout the season.
As the team travels to Texas A&M this weekend, the Razorbacks hope to finish the regular season with another winning series. At 39-8, Arkansas has won every conference series this season.
Following the three games with the Aggies, the Razorbacks will be the top seed in the SEC Tournament. It begins May 10 in Gainesville, Fla.