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Mizzou softball fights to the end, but can’t muster second upset against UCLA

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Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

Softball bows out of NCAA Tournament after fighting to the brink

When Larissa Anderson took over the Missouri softball program, it was probably fair to say expectations were somewhat low.

The program was... well, maybe not in shambles after the messy departure of Ehren Earleywine. But things had certainly been much, much better. A mass exodus of star players left the program with an usual talent deficiency. The long investigation of Earleywine had turned relations with former players and the athletic department sour. Not to mention, the ugly cloud of, “what’s actually happening behind the scenes,” continued to permeate into the stands. When Sterk finally brought the thing to an end and hired Anderson a few months later, it seemed like it would take some time before the Tigers could reach the lofty heights they achieved during the 2010s.

Apparently, though, someone forgot to tell Anderson and her team. In her first year as head coach, Anderson led the Tigers to a 35-25 record and a No. 2 seed in an NCAA Regional. Her team fought until the bitter end on Sunday, forcing a do-or-die elimination game with one of the best teams in the country before finally bowing out.

Missouri staved off elimination with a 5-1 win against UCLA in the first game of the NCAA Los Angeles Regional championship Sunday afternoon.

But because UCLA entered the day undefeated in the double-elimination regional bracket, the teams faced off again Sunday night in a winner-take-all contest — and the Bruins bombarded their way to a 13-1 win in five innings to end the Tigers’ season.

It’s a sad end to such a promising debut season, but there’s comfort to be taken. Sophomores Hatti Moore and Brooke Wilmes both contributed home runs on the day, and they make up a core of deadly hitters that were mostly underclassmen this season. And while workhorse starter Madi Norman will graduate, junior Eli Daniel and sophomore Cassie Gasper should both return after appearing in more than 30 games.

All in all, it was a stellar first campaign in the Larissa Anderson era, especially when considering the NCAA sanctions that came down this spring. Not knowing if they’d be able to appear in a postseason, the team forced the issue and made sure they #OwnedIt before the NCAA could have a shot at taking it away from them.

Congratulations on a great season, Tigers! We can’t wait to see where y’all go from here!

More Links:

  • A lot of hubbub was made over Joe Flacco’s comments about mentoring Drew Lock — or rather how he wasn’t concerned with doing so — and it seems like Lock is standing behind his senior for now.
  • Mizzou baseball kicks off the SEC Tournament tomorrow against Ole Miss, and while they’re likely still sitting pretty for an NCAA tournament spot, a win would certainly help shore things up after losing the last 4 games of the regular season.
  • Andrew Kauffman at ABC 17 had Laurence Bowers on Sports Zone, and the two talked about Game of Thrones predictions. See how he did here: