2024 Bear Down Fiesta

Arkansas Softball Travels To Desert For Bear Down Fiesta: What To Know

Arkansas Softball Travels To Desert For Bear Down Fiesta: What To Know

Here’s all you need to know ahead of Bear Down Fiesta, where Arkansas, Long Beach State and Omaha will battle Feb. 15-18.

Feb 9, 2024 by Briar Napier
Arkansas Softball Travels To Desert For Bear Down Fiesta: What To Know

Hillenbrand Stadium in Tucson, Arizona, is a mecca for college softball and will play host to early-season college softball events, too. 

The Bear Down Fiesta will welcome Arkansas, Long Beach State and Omaha to Tucson from Feb. 15-18.

Arkansas is the highest-ranked of the teams, coming in a no. 16 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll

Here’s all you need to know ahead of Arizona’s Bear Down Fiesta.

What Teams Are Playing in the Bear Down Fiesta?

*FloSoftball will not broadcast Arizona’s games in the Bear Down Fiesta.

Arizona hosts three teams that made the NCAA Tournament a season ago, while the Wildcats themselves are trying to recover from their rare miss of the regional round in 2023. 

Arkansas is the other national household name in the Bear Down Fiesta, with the Razorbacks (who won at least 40 games for the third straight season) returning a share of difference-makers on their roster after being the No. 11 national seed last year.

The Razorbacks also have redemption on their minds after being eliminated in the finals of their own regional by Oregon. 

Two mid-major teams in the field, Long Beach State and Omaha, will be bringing their own powerful arsenals to the desert. 

Long Beach State are five-time Women’s College World Series qualifiers and the defending Big West Conference regular-season and tournament champions, making their 26th appearance in the NCAA Tournament a season ago. Their campaign ended with a pair of one-run losses to Stanford and Loyola Marymount, shelving a regional run. 

Meanwhile, over at Omaha, the Mavericks made their first NCAA Tournament appearance last season after taking the Summit League Championship title, their first league championship of any kind since reclassifying from Division II just over a decade ago.

Omaha picked up its first regional win, too, by defeating Prairie View A&M in an elimination game.

Players To Watch

Rylin Hedgecock, UTL, Arkansas

The only player in the Southeastern Conference last season to hit for at least 20 home runs and 60 RBIs, Rylin Hedgecock’s breakout season in Fayetteville as a redshirt junior saw her named by D1Softball as the Most Improved Player in the country and by the NFCA as a first-team All-American. 

Those aren’t bad accolades for a player who entered the 2023 season with two career homers and 17 career RBIs. 

Lethal in the clutch, as she smashed over half (11) of her 21 homers with runners in scoring position, Hedgecock turned from a virtually unknown player outside of Arkansas to a superstar talent in the space of one year. Her follow-up act in 2024 may be the most important factor behind the Hogs’ success. She’ll be a big piece as the program searches for its first trip to the WCWS. 

The Georgia native’s consistency at the plate in 2023, shown by her 17 multi-RBI games and her team-leading .459 on-base percentage and .774 slugging percentage, should have her set up for another big year for the perennial SEC contender.

Hannah Gammill, INF, Arkansas

While Hedgecock’s explosion occurred, a talented teammate in Hannah Gammill simultaneously found herself in a bit of a funk last year.

A first-team All-American in 2022 as she slashed .374/513 /.781 and was integral to the Razorbacks’ SEC regular-season and tournament double that season, her production slipped as a junior. She tallied a third of the home runs (18 to six) and around half of the RBIs (51 to 26) in 2023 compared to 2022.

Those in the know understand Gammill’s talent is legit, however, like USA Softball when it selected her to join the 16-player national team of college standouts who played in last summer’s Japan All-Star Series with other superstars, including Clemson’s Valerie Cagle and Stanford’s NiJaree Canady. 

All-America-caliber seasons from both Hedgecock and Gammill would give the Hogs the most stacked lineup they’ve ever seen and go a long way in towards their mission to get to Oklahoma City.

Kamryn Meyer, P, Omaha

All-Summit League infielder Lynsey Tucker (.364 batting average last year) deserves some pub, too, but it’s hard to go against the conference’s two-time reigning strikeouts leader who has finished in the top 10 nationally in Ks in each of the past two seasons. 

Only Alabama’s Montana Fouts and Auburn’s Maddie Penta (a pair of All-Americans) threw more strikeouts last season than Kamryn Meyer, who finished with 283 punchouts to up her total to 778 for her career. She’s now on pace to join the exclusive 1,000 career strikeouts club later this year with another standout season in the circle. 

Two consecutive seasons with an ERA well under 2.00 (including a 1.62 ERA in 2023) and 50 complete games in her college career makes it a challenge to beat Meyer, and the two-time All-Summit first-team selection should have her first Summit League Pitcher of the Year Award on her mind as the takes over the ace role once again for a Mavericks squad looking to make it repeat trips to the regional round. 

How To Watch The 2024 Bear Down Fiesta

Watch the 2024 Bear Down Fiesta on FloSoftball and the FloSports app.

FloSoftball will be streaming several NCAA Division I college softball tournaments, including the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, THE Spring Games and the Mark Campbell Collegiate Invitational.

2024 Bear Down Fiesta Schedule

All times Eastern

*FloSoftball will not broadcast Arizona’s games in the Bear Down Fiesta.

Thursday, Feb. 15

  • Arizona vs. Long Beach State, 7 p.m.*
  • Arizona vs. Long Beach State, 9 p.m.*

Friday, Feb. 16

  • Long Beach State vs. Arkansas, 1 p.m.
  • Long Beach State vs. Omaha, 3 p.m.
  • Arizona vs. Arkansas, 6 p.m.*
  • Arizona vs. Omaha, 8 p.m.*

Saturday, Feb. 17

  • Long Beach State vs. Omaha, 11 a.m.
  • Omaha vs. Arkansas, 1:30 p.m.
  • Arizona vs. Arkansas, 4 p.m.*

Sunday, Feb. 18

  • Arkansas vs. Omaha, 11 a.m.
  • Arizona vs. Omaha 1:30 p.m.*

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