FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — “Everyone loves to hit home runs, everyone loves to watch home runs,” said Arkansas senior infielder Danielle Gibson.
If hitting homers is fun, then there aren’t many teams having more fun than the No. 4-ranked Arkansas Razorbacks.
“It is a fun way to win games,” Gibson said.
Winning games, and hitting bombs while doing so.
There’s another name you can call these Hogs.
“I think it was meant to be Bogle Bombers,” said senior outfielder Linnie Malkin. “It’s perfect.”
You don’t get the nickname Bogle Bombers for no reason.
En route to back-to-back SEC titles, the Hogs have hit a program-record 100 home runs this season, tied for first in the SEC, while being one of just five schools in the country to reach the century mark.
“You talk about hitting being contagious, home runs are contagious here for sure,” said senior catcher Taylor Ellsworth. “It’s literally, anyone is capable of it, and anyone can do it at any given time.”
So what’s the key to the Hogs' success with the long ball?
Well, there are a few of them.
“I just think we have so much confidence in ourselves and lifting,” said sophomore infielder Hannah Gammill.
“We have so much power,” Ellsworth said. “You think bottom-of-the-lineups usually don’t. Our bottom of the lineup does.”
“We’re always craving more,” Malkin said. “More runs, more hits, everything.”
For Malkin, more of everything includes records.
Malkin leads the team this year with 19 home runs and launched her 47th career homer in Sunday’s regular-season finale against Texas A&M, tying the school record.
Right behind Malkin in the record book? Her teammate, Danielle Gibson, with 46.
“It’s great because she’ll hit one and I hit one,” Malkin said. “It’s just super contagious.”
“I would say it’s an unspoken competition,” Gibson said. “She’s a phenomenal hitter and one of the physically strongest people I’ve ever met.”
Yet if you ask them who the best home run hitter is on the team, they all say the same person.
“Hannah Gammill,” Gibson said.
“I mean Hannah Gammill does a lot of it,” Ellsworth said.
“I think Han Gam puts some balls out there that are pretty amazing,” Malkin said.
The sophomore is tied with Gibson for the second on the team with 18 home runs this season.
“I think they just have a lot of confidence in my ability,” Gammill said. “I don’t know why they say that though,” she said with a laugh.
No matter which Bogle Bomber bombs the best or the most, there’s the same prize waiting for them at home plate.
“Home run hugs, I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Gibson said.
“Every home run, they come give you a bear hug. It’s new to me, but I absolutely love it,” Ellsworth said.
“It shows what Arkansas softball is, that we care for each other,” Gibson said. “Teams always come in and tell us, ‘You guys just look like you’re having so much fun and you look like you actually love each other.’ Like, we do!”
Home runs, hugs and love.
A formula the Hogs hope to ride to Oklahoma City for a crack at their first national title.
“This team is still climbing,” said head coach Courtney Deifel. “I truly believe our best softball is still out ahead of us.”
“Our ceiling is there,” Gibson said. “I think that we are one of the best teams in the nation, that we are still overlooked a little bit. Fine by me though, I’d rather be overlooked than the opposite.”
And as likely hosts through Super Regionals, you can expect more Bogle bombs on the Hogs' journey to OKC.
“It’s definitely really cool to bring Fayetteville a different side of softball to see and experience,” Gibson said.
As any who’s watched this team this year will tell you:
“They sure are fun to watch, aren’t they?” asked Deifel.
They sure are.
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