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Missouri baseball wins wild rubber match to solidify NCAA hopes

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Here are today’s Mizzou Links.

Diamond sports inch closer to NCAA tournaments

Things have been slowly trending upward for both Larissa Anderson and Steve Bieser’s squads this spring, and the season is rounding into its home stretch as both rosters look to clinch postseason berths and stave off what could be a non-existent postseason ban.

Starting with softball, Anderson’s team couldn’t quite put a cap on a perfect weekend, dropping the third game of its last regular season series. Despite the loss, it was still an overwhelmingly successful weekend for the Tigers, giving them a 32-22 record heading into this week’s SEC Tournament and two late season walkoff wins to boost their narrative cred, which this writer believes is important to all sports, particularly ones that need to generate late season storylines.

It should be noted how successful Larissa Anderson’s first year on the job was. The past few season’s have been filled with on-and-off field turmoil for one of Mizzou’s stronger programs, and Anderson’s tenure came off a pretty contentious time for Mizzou Softball. However, her team put up the best SEC record in three years and will likely head to the SEC Tournament with a very good chance of locking up an NCAA Tournament berth.

On to baseball: Steve Bieser’s squad is in similar territory as softball when it comes to the postseason — things are looking good, though a few more wins certainly wouldn’t hurt. And after starting Sunday’s rubber match down 7-0, the Tigers found a way to ahem claw their way back into the game.

With their backs against the wall, the Tigers showed amazing resiliency with a seven-run top half of the third inning. Senior OF Connor Brumfield, sophomore C Chad McDaniel and senior 3B Paul Gomez each delivered two RBI hits to highlight the frame.

The Tigers would give up the lead once more, only to retake it for good in what would become a 10-8 victory. The win moves the Tigers 33-16-1 on the season and gives them a 12-11-1 record in SEC play.

The SEC may be traditionally dominant in football, but it’s even more so in baseball, and a record above .500 will usually be more than enough to get you a spot in the NCAA Tournament. It doesn’t hurt that the series victory came over a ranked team on the road.

The Tigers still have series against No. 2 Vanderbilt and Florida. However, Steve Bieser’s team has proven it can hang with the best. A few more wins should solidify the Tigers’ first NCAA berth in seven years.

More Links:

  • Football offseason is in full swing at PowerMizzou, where Mitchell Forde ranked the 10 most important Tigers currently on the roster.
  • Finally, take some time today to send prayers/good thoughts and vibes to the city of St. Louis and especially the East St. Louis community this week.

The young man pictured above is Jaylon McKenzie, one of 17 people who were shot and killed in St. Louis on Saturday.

The Mizzou connection is clear — McKenzie was an eighth grade phenom who held offers from the Tigers and Illinois. He has friends on the team now. However, McKenzie’s life was not defined by Mizzou or by football. He was a young man with all the promise of the world in front of him, promise that was stolen from him (and many others) this weekend. Tragedy happens all the time in all corners of the world, and it feels odd when it creeps into our little sports corner. But we’d be remiss to not acknowledge it and the pain it causes.

Rest in peace, Jaylon.