NO. 22 CENTRAL ARKANSAS 8-12, LIPSCOMB 0-0
CONWAY -- Jaylee Engelkes played her final two home games Friday night, but she couldn't leave without making one final memory at Farris Field.
2023 hasn't been the season she, or the University of Central Arkansas softball team, had hoped for the fifth-year senior. She tied the program record with 12 home runs in 2022, making the All-ASUN second team.
After hitting a pinch-hit double in the first game of Friday's doubleheader against Lipscomb, an 8-0 win in six innings, Engelkes got her second start since April 23.
In her first at-bat, the lefty from Greenbrier hit a ball deep to left center field, onto the berm that backdrops Farris Field to get No. 22 UCA (39-9, 22-2 ASUN) started in its 12-0 win.
"[Today] was just amazing," Engelkes said. "I didn't expect to play today. Whenever I went in, I was just like I'm gonna go out with a bang. [In my] first at-bat, I was like I'm gonna hit the ball as hard as I can.
"As soon as I hit it, I was like uh, that ball is gone. ... It was awesome, especially whenever I saw everyone waiting for me to put on that cowboy hat. I'm happy that I was finally back in the groove."
After a slow start to the season that saw Engelkes finish February with one home run and a .167 batting average, and sporadic playing time throughout March, UCA Coach Jenny Parsons and her staff decided they were going to ride with the veteran.
Over her last nine games, she has hit 8 for 27 for a .296 batting average. Engelkes said the faith Parsons and the staff had in her has meant a lot this season.
"Whenever I was not doing good, [Parsons] just kept me in there. I didn't play for quite a few games and honestly, it was good for me. I needed a mental break," Engelkes said. "I came back a lot stronger, especially against Liberty. That was when I was like, okay I'm finally doing a lot better. And this weekend was just the icing on the cake."
It was the first time the Bears have ever run-ruled a team in all three games.
The Bears outscored the Bisons 33-1 with the lone run allowed coming unearned in the series opener Thursday.
Mary Kate Brown went 7 for 8 with three walks in the doubleheader. Morgan Nelson, Madi Young and Tremere Harris all reached base at least six times. Six players scored more runs individually than Lipscomb did as a team.
"The offense was outstanding all weekend," Parsons said. "It says a lot. From the beginning of March, we're improving statistically. We're peaking at the right time."
The pitching duo of Jordan Johnson and Kayla Beaver held Lipscomb to 9 hits in 16 innings, striking out 17 batters.
UCA set a program record for wins in a season with the sweep. They'll be the No. 1 seed in next week's ASUN Tournament.
"We're excited. This is the best season in UCA history," Parsons said. "It's the postseason now, and we want to go make a statement."