FAYETTEVILLE — No. 4 Arkansas and No. 18 Texas will meet Thursday night in the first game of the super regionals in Fayetteville.
Arkansas (47-9) has set a school record for wins in a single season while Texas (41-18-1) is fresh off winning the Seattle Regional. Arkansas went undefeated at the Fayetteville Regional defeating Princeton once and Oregon twice. Arkansas Coach Courtney Deifel and Texas Coach Mike White are both aware of the rivalry between these two schools.
“We know we are in for a battle with coming into town as we would with any team coming in for a super regional matchup,” Deifel said. “But I feel like our team is ready to go. I’m personally really excited that we get to play [Thursday] it’s one less day to wait to get back out on the field. We just hope the weather cooperates, but we’re excited and ready to roll.”
Texas is 6-0 in softball having never lost to Arkansas. White was pleased his team was able to go to Seattle and punch its ticket to the super regionals.
“Obviously it was a tough road to get here and a long road from one coast to the other,” White said. “But we’re excited to be here in Arkansas to play the Razorbacks. Obviously they’re having a great year having won both the SEC Championship and regular season title. They’re playing extremely well. We know that. They’ve got a tough team, lot of offense, lot of power and two great pitchers.
“So we’re hoping we can give them a good series here. I know there’s a lot of tradition between the Longhorns and the Razorbacks from the past. I think it’s great to get it going in softball and we’re excited for the matchup this week.”
Senior first baseman Danielle Gibson has hit 20 home runs, 69 RBI and leads the team hitting .445. Like Deifel she is ready to play.
“She said we were playing Thursday night and I was like ‘thank you,'” Gibson said following Wednesday’s practice. “I looked and we just got lucky we were one of the (Thursday) games. Yeah I’m real excited I think it kinda helps with just the waiting aspect of playing. We could have played yesterday and I feel like we would have been really prepared. I’m just excited.”
With it being Texas and Arkansas it won’t be a normal weekend at Bogle Park. Arkansas outfielder Hannah McEwen knows the team has to be ready to play the Longhorns and not overhype it too much. But she knows Fayetteville and Arkansas’ fans are ready for it.
“I feel like I will be impressed here shortly,” Gibson said laughing. “We get good crowds all the time and our fans are amazing but I think there’s a vibe just amongst us that it’s going to be picked up a notch so I’m just excited to see what they bring to the table for us.”
Gibson is also excited about Texas coming to town.
“When were watching the deciding game (Texas and Washington) I looked at my mom and said, ‘We’re gonna get Texas and this legit will be one of the craziest weekends and coolest environment that I will ever get to be around and be a part of and I love her fans. They are passionate about softball. I’m excited being an environment that’s a one in a lifetime.”
While Texas went 2-1 against Washington in Seattle over the past weekend the Razorbacks fell to the Huskies two times very early in the season, In February Washington beat Arkansas 8-0 and 10-5 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Does White put any stock in those early season matchups like that?
“Not at all,” White said. “Not at all. Championship softball is different and you’ve seen it last week with four unseeded teams coming through. The bracket looks like it’s not quite how they picked it. But that’s why we play. We’re hoping we’re one of those Cinderella stories this week.”
The games are 6 p.m. Thursday night and 5:30 p.m. Friday night with both on ESPN2. If a third game is necessary on Saturday the time and telecast will be determined.