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Arkansas softball falls in SEC Tournament opener to Missouri

The Arkansas Razorbacks are officially one and done in the 2024 SEC Softball Tournament.

Fifth-seeded Missouri (42-14 overall) overmatched the fourth-seeded Razorbacks to complete a 3-1 victory at Auburn’s Jane B. Moore Field in a game that was suspended Thursday night due to severe weather.

When play resumed at 9:02 a.m. CDT Friday, Missouri had a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning with runners at first and third and no one out. Robyn Herron struck out Maddie Gallagher for the first out of the inning before Missouri used a double steal to plate their third run.

Jenna Laird, who had two hits including an RBI double in the fifth inning Thursday, stole home. Afterwards, Alex Honnold was tagged out in a rundown between first and second base. Herron allowed a single to Abby Hay but struck out Stefania Abruscato to end the inning.

The Razorbacks went quietly in the fifth before getting their best chance at a breakthrough in the sixth when they loaded the bases with no one out. Nia Carter singled before Bri Ellis was hit by a pitch.

That prompted Missouri coach Larissa Anderson to remove Tigers starter Cierra Harrison for Marissa McCann. Afterwards, Cylie Halvorson singled off the glove of Laird at shortstop to load the bases.

But the Hogs soon squandered a golden opportunity when Hannah Gamill popped up with the infield fly rule in effect for the first out. McCann then struck out Kennedy Miller to end an 11-pitch battle before Rylin Hedgecock, pinch-hitting for Hannah Camenzind, struck out on three pitches to end the threat.

Arkansas went in order against Missouri pitcher Taylor Pannell in the seventh inning to end the game — and the Razorbacks’ hopes of a deep conference tournament run. Pannell earned her 14th save of the season.

Harrison (14-3) earned the win for Missouri. She allowed one run on four hits in five-plus innings. Morgan Leinstock (13-5) suffered the loss for Arkansas, allowing three runs and seven hits in four innings.

Missouri advanced to play LSU in the semifinal round of the tournament after LSU defeated No. 1 seed Tennessee in a 2-1 upset Thursday.

Even with the loss, Arkansas (36-16) still figures to be one of the 16 Regional site hosts for the NCAA Tournament. The Razorbacks are ranked as high as No. 9 in the latest D1Softball Top 25 poll, and they’d won five straight SEC series before dropping two of three to Ole Miss last weekend.

RELATED: Where does Arkansas softball rank in final regular-season Top 25 polls?

Arkansas will learn its postseason fate when the final field of 64 is revealed during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show beginning at 6 p.m. CDT Sunday. The Selection Show will be televised by ESPN2.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire