CONWAY -- From start to finish, the University of Central Arkansas softball team hit the ball hard Thursday night.
The Bears' first three batters reached base, and cleanup hitter Mary Kate Brown scored them all with a grand slam to the right field bullpen in the first inning as UCA defeated Lipscomb 12-1 in five innings at Farris Field.
Thursday's win was UCA's 37th this season, marking the program-record for regular season wins.
"That set the tone for us," UCA Coach Jenny Parsons said. "It's easier to pitch when you're pitching from in front."
Brown's home run, her third this season, gave UCA a 4-0 lead after one inning. The Bears (37-9, 20-2 ASUN) gave up a run in the second inning on a Tremere Harris fielding error, but promptly extended their lead in the bottom half of the frame thanks to Morgan Nelson's two-run double to make the score 8-1.
In the fourth inning, senior Morgan Curley picked up her third and fourth RBI of the year on a two-run double to left center field, making it 8-1.
In the fifth inning, Harris and Brown walked, and Madi Young hit a single to center field as UCA loaded the bases once again.
Nelson stepped to the plate and three pitches later hit a walk-off grand slam. That was her 11th home run this season, matching her total form 2022 that is tied for second in program history for a season.
"[Nelson] gets anxious when she starts getting pitched too tough," Parsons said. "We've gone through those swing changes a little bit [with Nelson], kind of got her back doing what she does really well."
Lipscomb (21-27, 9-13) used two pitchers, Emily Yakubowski and Macey Ogle, for two and 21/3 innings respectively. UCA scored six runs against each, totaling 13 hits and 6 walks to 2 strikeouts.
Nelson went 4-for-4 at the plate, recording 2 doubles and 6 RBI. Harris went 3 for 3 with a walk, scoring 3 runs and hitting 2 doubles.
"You can't say enough about how Tremere played today at the top of the lineup. She was on base all the time," Parsons said. "And then Morgan Nelson 4-for-4 with the grand slam. Those two set the tone for us early."
UCA will play a doubleheader against Lipscomb today, beginning at 4 p.m. One win would clinch UCA's eighth straight conference series win.