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Arkansas Softball Heads to the Clearwater Invitational

Arkansas went 5-0 at the UNLV Rebel Kickoff during opening weekend, beating Weber State twice, UNLV, Southern Utah, and Baylor. Arkansas outscored opponents 51-9 and reached the run rule in four of the five games. The Razorbacks will head to Florida for the TaxAct Clearwater Invitational, where they start off playing Florida State on Friday.

The 2023 Clearwater Invitational is one of the most competitive tournaments of the year. Teams participating are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Duke, Florida State, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, UCF, UCLA, USF, and Virginia Tech. The entire event will be available to watch across ESPN channels.

Arkansas will be playing #7 Florida State Friday at 12 pm, #19 Duke Friday at 5 pm, Indiana Saturday at 12 pm, #22 Louisiana Saturday at 3:30 pm, and Nebraska Sunday at 8:30 am. Times are CT.

No. 7 Florida State - 2/17 12 pm - ESPNU

The first team the Razorbacks will see in Clearwater are the Florida State Seminoles. Florida State is a top 10 team in the country, despite a loss against Longwood last weekend. The Seminoles racked up wins against Lipscomb, Purdue, Longwood, and Florida A&M during their opening weekend at home. They averaged nearly 6 runs per game last weekend while Arkansas averaged over 10.

Florida State has a phenomenal pitching staff with Kathryn Sandercock, Makenna Reid, Mack Leonard, and Allison Royalty all posting below 1.00 ERA's. Arkansas will probably see Sandercock or Royalty to start. Katie Dack leads the team with 8 RBI's, and Kaley Mudge sits at the top of the lineup with a .278 avg. Devyn Flaherty has been a threat everywhere with a .333 avg and 6 stolen bases. The 'Noles won their first game of the Clearwater Invitational on Thursday, beating #15 Arizona. This should be a really good game as both teams have fantastic pitching and defense, it could be low scoring. Arkansas vs. Florida State will be on ESPNU Friday at 12 pm CT.

No. 19 Duke - 2/17 5 pm - ESPN+

The Duke Blue Devils started off the season at #16, but now sit at #19 after taking losses from Oklahoma and Washington last weekend. Their most notable win comes from #17 Stanford. They dropped their first game of the tournament to Alabama on Thursday, and will play USF before Arkansas on Friday. The 3-3 Blue Devils have slight concerns in the circle as they've given up 22 runs across 6 games. Jala Wright leads the group with 18 innings pitched (4.50 ERA), Cassidy Curd behind her with 11.1 IP (0.79 ERA) and Claire Davidson with 7.2 IP (8.22 ERA). Their offense has shown a lot of fight and has kept them in games they were losing, but it has not been enough. Deja Davis and Kelly Torres lead the way with .429 batting averages. Davis has recorded 8 runs, and Torres has hit 2 long balls. I expect this to be a good matchup, and Arkansas' offense to benefit from Duke's defensive woes. Arkansas and Duke meet at 5 pm CT on Friday, the game will stream on ESPN+.

Indiana - 2/18 12 pm - ESPN+

Indiana will be the first unranked team that Arkansas will see this weekend. The Hoosiers are 3-2 with their wins being against Pitt, Prairie View A&M, and South Alabama. They've taken losses to Auburn and #22 Louisiana, both good teams. They scored 17 runs on a fairly decent Pitt team, then allowed Auburn to shut them out 0-9 so they've been kind of all over the place. Their ace, Brianna Copeland has had a good season so far, holding a 1.43 ERA, but the other pitchers haven't been too impressive, throwing above 6.00 ERA's.

The Hoosiers have also committed 8 errors already, so Arkansas' offense is likely to thrive against that defense. Indiana doesn't hit a lot of home-runs, they only have one on the season, but Sarah Stone has 3 doubles and 7 RBI's so she will be a hitter to keep an eye on. They take advantage of iffy pitching as they've taken 13 free bases, so the Razorbacks should be sure to be sharp in the circle. Indiana will play Mississippi State on Friday night before the Razorbacks on Saturday. You can stream Arkansas vs. Indiana on ESPN+ at 12 pm CT.

No. 22 Louisiana - 2/18 3:30 pm - ESPN+

The Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns are always a good softball team, sitting at the top of the Sun Belt conference. They've started their season 5-0, beating Lafayette College twice, Stephen F. Austin twice, and Indiana. They face challenging teams in Michigan and #5 Oklahoma State this weekend before meeting Arkansas. Louisiana has a great offense, they have 3 different players with 7 RBI's each: Victoria Valdez (.571 avg), Jourdyn Campbell (.538 avg), and Karly Heath (.467 avg). They have outscored opponents 48-2. Their 5 pitchers have combined for a 0.48 ERA. The Ragin' Cajuns haven't faced really tough opponents yet, so it will be interesting to see what happens in their next two games in Clearwater. Louisiana faces Arkansas Saturday afternoon at 3:30 pm CT on ESPN+.

Nebraska - 2/19 8:30 am - SEC Network

Nebraska is the last team Arkansas will play in Clearwater. The Huskers are 4-3 on the season but have yet to defeat a top 25 team. They have wins over Lamar, Houston, and Virginia. They've had a rough start to the Clearwater Invitational so far, getting run ruled in their first two games by #5 Oklahoma State and #2 UCLA. They still have to play #8 Virginia Tech and a one loss Texas A&M team before meeting Arkansas.

The Huskers have a pretty good pitching staff, 2 pitchers averaging below 2.00 ERA's. Sarah Harness has thrown 19 strikeouts in 11.2 innings. They've outscored opponents 24-19. Billie Andrews is a player to watch out for at the plate, she leads the team with a .381 avg, 8 hits, 5 RBI's, 2 home-runs and 16 total bases. I don't expect Nebraska to be too much of a challenge, but in this sport any team can win on any day. Nebraska's game against Arkansas will start Sunday morning at 8:30am CT, so set your alarms and tune into the SEC Network.

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