Bradley Softball Upsets Top 25 Ranked Arkansas To Open Season

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LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Junior Jillian Navarro gave Bradley Softball the lead with a two-run homer in the fourth and came up with a big defensive play in the top of the seventh as the Braves topped #20/24 Arkansas 3-2 Friday afternoon to start play at the Troy Cox Classic.

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Bradley (1-0 overall) earned its first victory against a nationally ranked team since a 2-1 win at Louisiana on Feb. 26, 2017.  The Braves collected just four hits but scored three runs and senior Emma Jackson struck out six in the complete-game victory.  Arkansas managed just five hits off Jackson but stranded eight. 

Arkansas (1-1 overall) wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, plating a run in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead.  Syndey Parr led off the contest with a bunt single and stole second, before coming around to score on a double off the bat of Hannah Mcewen. 

After giving up hits to the first two batters she faced, Jackson got out of the first without giving up another run as the Razorbacks stranded a pair and she sat Arkansas down in order in both the second and third innings. 

Arkansas threatened in the top of the fourth after Danielle Gibson drew a leadoff walk. Jackson struck out the next batter she faced before a hit batter put two runners on.  The fifth strikeout of the afternoon for Jackson was followed by a lineout to end the frame, however.

Bradley got on the board in the bottom of the fourth thanks in part to a two-out error.  Senior Kealia Wycoski reached on the two-out error and Navarro ripped a 2-0 pitch over the fence in left to give Bradley a 2-1 advantage.  The home run was the 13th career dinger for Navarro.

Jackson worked around a one-out single in the top of the fifth and the Braves tacked on an important insurance run in the bottom half.  Senior Sydney Young had a two-out double and stole third.  She was able to race home from third thanks to an Arkansas error on the play to give the Braves a 3-1 lead.

Gibson led off the Arkansas half of the sixth with a double and a walk put a pair on with no outs for the Razorbacks.  Jackson got a pop out for the first out of the inning and Wysocki threw out pinch-runner Sam Torres trying to steal third.  Larissa Cesena was called out of the box for the third out of the inning as the Braves escaped another jam. 

In the top of the seventh, pinch hitter Kayla Green drew a leadoff walk and Arkansas had a pair on after Rylin Hedgecock was hit by a pitch.  With the bases loaded following an infield single by Parr, Navarro came up with the big defensive play of the day for the Braves; tracking down a ball in right and throwing out Valerie Ventura at the plate to preserve the two-run lead.  A Bradley error allowed Arkansas to plate a run, however, before Jackson induced a groundout to end the 3-2 Bradley victory.

Bradley continues play at the Troy Cox Classic against tournament-host New Mexico State with first pitch at approximately 6:20 p.m.

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