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2-man wrecking crew | Arkansas Democrat Gazette

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2-man wrecking crew | Arkansas Democrat Gazette


FAYETTEVILLE — Brady Tygart and Will McEntire combined on a one-hit shutout and the No. 1 Razorbacks pulled off a rare home-run feat for the second year in a row to subdue Missouri 6-0 on Saturday.

Arkansas (16-2, 2-0 SEC) remained undefeated through 11 games on its homestand while winning its 12th consecutive game before an announced crowd of 10,434 on a sunny spring afternoon at Baum-Walker Stadium. The Hogs will go for a perfect home stand and a sweep of the Tigers (9-10, 0-2 SEC) at 2 p.m. today.

Arkansas posted consecutive shutouts of an SEC opponent in nine-inning games for the first time since the 2007 SEC Tournament against South Carolina (6-0) and Alabama (6-0).

The last time the Razorbacks logged back-to-back shutouts in league play in the same series came in 1978, when they blanked Rice in three straight games, 6-0, 1-0 and 6-0 in Southwest Conference play.

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“It’s hard to shut them out once, much less twice,” Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn said. “Back-to-back is something else. I’m sure we’re going to get their best shot tomorrow.

“Very rarely do you get a chance to win three in a row against the same team and we have that opportunity tomorrow and I hope we come out play well.”

All the scoring action came in the Razorbacks’ six-run sixth inning, against reliever Bryce Mayer (0-4), which broke up a scoreless pitcher’s duel between the Tygart/McEntire combo and Missouri left-hander Javyn Pimental, who allowed one hit in 5 innings through a season-high 78 pitches.

Peyton Stovall, Wehiwa Aloy and Kendall Diggs hit home runs in consecutive at bats to fire up the home crowd and give McEntire (2-0) all the help he would need.

“It was one of those games where neither team, neither offense is doing much,” said Stovall, who has eight RBI in six games since returning from a broken foot. “I was fortunate enough to put a good swing on the ball and I felt like that got our dugout going.

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“Wehiwa had a great swing. He hit one out and, obviously, Diggs. Me and Diggs were actually joking after the game. I’ve felt like since we’ve been here, we’ve hit like four or five that were back-to-back.”

Stovall sent his go-ahead 404-foot shot, his second of the season, off the top of the facade over the right-field wall on a 2-2 pitch. Aloy ripped Mayer’s next offering, an inside breaking ball over the wall in left field for a 396-foot deposit, his third. Diggs got behind early, fouled off a couple of pitches, then rammed an opposite-field shot over the wall in left 372 feet for his team-high fourth home run and his third in as many games.

The Razorbacks were believed to have hit their first back-to-back-to-back shots in school history in the seventh inning of a 10-9, 11-inning win over Illinois State last year, when Stovall, Diggs and Caleb Cali did it.

“It’s hard to do,” Van Horn said. “What are the percentages? They’re not very high, that’s for sure, and obviously some things have to go your way.

“You’ve got to have some things really fall into place to hit three in a row. It’s hard to hit back-to-back, honestly. The way it was going today, it was hard for us to get a hit.”

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The Razorbacks had one hit through five innings, but they didn’t stop after the home run trio in the sixth. Ben McLaughlin drew a one-out walk, then Jayson Jones was hit by a pitch and Ross Lovich hit a two-run triple off his former team into the gap in left-center field. Lovich completed the uprising by scoring on a wild pitch from Charlie Miller.

“Good hitting teams take advantage when you make mistakes, and they did that,” Missouri Coach Kerrick Jackson. “Unfortunately on the offensive side for us we didn’t.”

The Tigers have no runs on five hits through the first 18 innings of the series, but they had their chances to back Pimental’s great start by putting lots of runners on against Tygart in his final two innings.

Trevor Austin led off the fourth with a single, but he was erased on a hit and run when Jackson Lovich hit a liner right at the shortstop Aloy for an easy double play. After that, Thomas Curry, Jackson Beaman and Justin Colon drew consecutive walks. On a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded, Matt Garica lined sharply up the middle but Aloy was positioned perfectly to leap and make the run-saving grab.

“They made mistakes, and we didn’t take advantage of those,” Jackson said. “We had a little thing going there where Garcia hits that line drive but unfortunately hit it right at the shortstop. That ball’s four inches taller, and we’re talking about a different story there.

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“And we have a hit-and-run situation where J-Lo [Lovich] hits a line drive right at the shortstop, runner’s in motion, ball’s a little bit more to the left, a little bit more to the right, talking about a different situation there.”

McEntire made a living off following Tygart starts last season and he did it again, throwing a hitless 4 1/3 innings on 56 pitches to complete the clamp down.

“Last year, when he started making starts and I would relieve him, we’d joke around and just say that we’re just like a 1-2 punch,” McEntire said. “I kind of just go until I’m told that I’m not going any longer. I really enjoy coming out of the pen just cause you don’t really know when you’ll come in so you’ve just got to be in the moment.”

    Arkansas pitchers Brady Tygart and Will McEntire (shown) combined on a one-hit shutout of Missouri on Saturday at Baum-Walker Stadium. Tygart started and pitched the first 4 2/3 innings before McEntire finished the final 4 1/3 innings to earn the win. More photos at nwaonline.com/317mizzouua/ (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
 
 
  photo  Arkansas’ Ben McLaughlin (right) waits for a throw as Missouri’s Trevor Austin (19) slides safely into first base on a pickoff attempt during the top-ranked Razorbacks’ 6-0 victory over the Tigers on Saturday at Baum-Walker Stadium in Fayetteville. More photos at nwaonline.com/317mizzouua/. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Charlie Kaijo)
 
 



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Arkansas Pie Festival returns April 27 – Talk Business & Politics

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Arkansas Pie Festival returns April 27 – Talk Business & Politics


The Arkansas Pie Festival is set to return to Cherokee Village, Ark., on Saturday (April 27) as a partner of the World Food Championship, the biggest Food Sport event in the world.

As an official qualifying event for WFC, the Arkansas Pie Festival will award one Golden Ticket to its champion making them eligible to compete in the Dessert category at the international cooking tournament this fall.

It will host a competition between commercial pie makers, home chefs, and students. Judges and attendees will be able to sample pies of all varieties before crowning a people’s choice and champion baker. Pies will also be displayed and auctioned to support the Spring River Innovation Hub.

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“The Arkansas Pie Festival is back and bigger than ever”, said festival co-founder and Cherokee Village community developer Jonathan Rhodes. “We’ve seen the excitement building around the local community and throughout the state thanks to our partners like The World Food Championship. The Arkansas Pie Festival gives us an opportunity to promote Arkansas, bring people together in Cherokee Village and support our small businesses. And…who doesn’t love pie?”

In addition to pie tasting, festival goers will enjoy live music entertainment on the FNBC Stage, food trucks, pie eating contests, shopping at the Arkansas Pie Pop-up Shop and the opportunity to meet Miss Arkansas 2023 Cori Keller. The festival also includes a Pie Day 5K race sponsored by White River Health and the Pie Fest Pup Parade.

Kat Robinson, Arkansas travel writing and leading authority on pie, serves as Festival co-chair. Kat has written a book oabout Arkansas Pie, “A Delicious Slice of the Natural State,” and recently released a second edition, “Another Slice of Arkansas Pie.”

Robinson will be available to sign her guides and other Arkansas food-related books. Robinson will lead judging with a host of Arkansas celebrities including Arkansas Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp, Director of Arkansas Tourism Dalaney Thomas, and Arkansas Democrat Gazette Restaurant Writer Eric Harrison.

Festival proceeds will support STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) programming and education through the community’s Spring River Innovation Hub.

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Another one | Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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Another one | Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette


FAYETTEVILLE — The No. 14 University of Arkansas softball team scored seven runs in the first inning and Morgan Leinstock pitched a shutout Sunday to defeat No. 15 Alabama 8-0 in five innings Sunday in the rubber match of the series at Bogle Park.

The Razorbacks (32-12, 11-7 SEC) won their fourth consecutive series, all of which have come against ranked opponents and followed the same pattern — win, loss, win.

Arkansas previously won series over Georgia, Missouri and South Carolina.

“It’s a matchup of toughness,” Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel said of rubber matches. “It’s a matchup of response. It’s a matchup, for us, a situation we’ve been in winning the series last four times.

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“It’s coming off the loss on Saturday and having to respond and grab the momentum back. … It just continues to show their toughness and their grit and their character. It’s a sport of series and when you win the series and you find a way to win two of the three, it’s huge. And so I’m just really proud of them.”

The Razorbacks recorded their first run-rule victory since winning 8-0 in five innings at Texas A&M-Commerce on March 18.

Alabama (31-12, 8-10) lost its second series in a row and was defeated by the Razorbacks in a rubber match for the second consecutive season. Arkansas took series over Alabama in back-to-back years for the first time.

The Razorbacks scored two runs in the series entering Sunday’s game, but were able to chase Alabama ace Kayla Beaver in the first inning with an onslaught of runs.

Arkansas sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning. The seven runs surrendered by Beaver, a graduate transfer from Central Arkansas, tied her career high and her most this season.

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“She doesn’t have many innings like that,” Deifel said. “She doesn’t have many outings like that. … And it looked a lot of ways. It wasn’t just like we were teeing off: it was a dribbler that we beat out, it was the home run, it was the flare hit, it was the walks and it was not stretching our zones and just doing whatever it took to pass the bat.

“She is a very, very talented pitcher and competitor and we knew that it was going to take a relentless approach to get to her.”

First baseman Bri Ellis began the scoring with a two-run home run deep over the wall in left-center field on the game’s third at-bat. Ellis’ 14th homer, which leads the team and ranks third in the SEC, put Arkansas ahead 2-0.

“I myself knew I had to make an adjustment because I just haven’t really been feeling at my best these past few games,” Ellis said. “I did the best I could in pregame to make any kind of adjustment and just kind of slow it down, do a little less.

“I knew what pitches I was going to get, and I knew that the best pitch I was going to see out of her hand was a screwball or whatever it is she’s throwing on the inside half. I knew that I wasn’t going to have success with the outer-half drop ball so I was letting those go, and after two of those came, I kind of had a feeling I was going to get something inside for a strike. So I was sitting on that pitch and I got it.”

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After a base hit by Kennedy Miller and a pair of walks loaded the bases, Rylin Hedgecock shot a single to right-center field on the first pitch she saw to score two runs. Arkansas extended its lead to 5-0 on the next at-bat when a wild pitch by Beaver scored Raigan Kramer from third base.

Two walks issued by Beaver loaded the bases again for the Razorbacks and forced a pitching change.

Jaala Torrence relieved Beaver. Nia Carter blooped a two-run single off Torrence to shallow left-center field, which was lost in the sun by Alabama shortstop Kenleigh Cahalan and gave the Razorbacks a 7-0 lead.

The big first inning came less than 16 hours after Alabama scored five runs during the fifth inning of Game 2 to defeat Arkansas and even the series. It was an emotional game for the Razorbacks, marred by an apparent missed call that led to Alabama’s big fifth.

“It was an emotional game last night,” Deifel said. “It was a frustrating game and it was a late game. … I know I didn’t sleep much last night with a quick turnaround and just the feel of the game last night. And so for them to show up ready to go, ready to make a statement and ready to respond, it was huge.”

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Leinstock, who pitched nine scoreless innings during the Razorbacks’ 1-0 series opening victory Friday, tossed another shutout. The right-handed graduate transfer from Southern Miss allowed 3 hits, 1 walk and struck out 5 to record her 12th victory.

“She’s a fighter in every sense of the word,” Deifel said of Leinstock. “For her to just set the tone in the first inning, make a statement throughout the game, and our defense have her back … it’s just really special.”

Torrence pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings for Alabama before she was replaced by Alea Johnson to begin the fourth.

A single by Carter and double off the wall in center field by Cylie Halvorson gave the Razorbacks runners in scoring position with one out. Hannah Gammill extended Arkansas’ lead to 8-0 a sacrifice fly heading into the fifth.

Leinstock and the Razorbacks’ defense stranded an Alabama runner at second base in the fifth inning to protect the eight-run lead and enforce a run rule.

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“It’s a game of mindset,” Deifel said. “It’s a game of, ‘How are we going to reset our mindset? How are we going to respond? How are we going to show up when things aren’t going how we want them to?’

“In softball, you have a lot of practice in that. Now this one had a lot more emotion to it, but for them to just start the day new and want to control what we can control — and I keep saying it — I’m just really proud of their response from last night to today.”

The Razorbacks recorded eight hits and drew five walks against Alabama’s pitchers. Carter led Arkansas with a 3-for-3 performance at the plate and tied Ellis and Hedgecock with a team-high two RBI.

Arkansas is scheduled to begin a three-game series at No. 7 LSU at 6 p.m. Central on Friday on SEC Network-Plus.



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Former Arkansas men’s basketball star Bobby Portis is a finalist for NBA Sixth Man of the Year | Whole Hog Sports

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Former Arkansas men’s basketball star Bobby Portis is a finalist for NBA Sixth Man of the Year | Whole Hog Sports


FAYETTEVILLE — Former Arkansas men’s basketball forward Bobby Portis was named a finalist for the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award on Sunday. 

Portis, who has been a standout performer with the Milwaukee Bucks this season, averages 13.8 points and 7.4 rebounds.

The other two finalists are Minnesota Timberwolves forward Naz Reid and Sacramento Kings guard Malik Monk, who graduated from Bentonville High School and played for new Arkansas coach John Calipari at Kentucky. The finalists were announced on TNT prior to a first-round playoff game between the Bucks and Indiana Pacers. 

Should Portis win, he would be the second former Razorback to win the award following Corliss Williamson in 2002.

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Portis, who is from Little Rock, led a storied Arkansas career. He was named SEC Player of the Year in 2015, becoming the first Razorback to earn the title since Williamson won back-to-back awards in 1994 and 1995. He was a finalist for national player of the year following his sophomore campaign and was a second-team All-American.

He was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 22nd overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Since then, he has played for the Bulls, Washington Wizards, New York Knicks and the Bucks. 

He won the 2021 NBA championship with Milwaukee.



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