Y’all, I am fired up about this softball team. FIRED UP. If you’ve read my preview — here’s the link for it again— the Tigers are in Cathedral City, California (Palm Springs area) for the highly competitive Mary Nutter Classic. Many of the teams playing in this tournament are the same ones you’re going to hear about in the postseason, and includes the likes of No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 10 Arizona, No. 15 Northwestern (Mizzou will play March 18-19), and No. 17 Tennessee (Mizzou will play March 11-13), as well as those on Mizzou’s docket this weekend: No. 10/11 Oregon, Texas Tech, No. 34 San Diego State, No. 5 Washington, and No. 6 UCLA.
Basically, an elite level event like this - much like the St. Pete/Clearwater Invite last weekend (featuring many of these same teams) - really shows a team what they’re made of early on in the season, and gives them a chance to show everyone they’re a team to beat.
AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THE TIGERS HAVE DONE.
With two Top 10 wins the past two days and a chance for the third, the Missouri Tigers are a team to be feared.
First things first, let’s start at the beginning of what has been a glorious work trip/vacation so far in Cali, shall we?
GAME ONE vs. No. 10/11 Oregon
Mizzou set the tone early in this one, as Kendyll Bailey hit a two-run single to score Jenna Laird and Maddie Snider, and Jordan Weber retired the first nine batters she faced. In the fourth, Brooke Wilmes made the score 4-0 after a two-run blast to center- her first of the season - to score herself and Casidy Chaumont. It wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth when the Ducks finally plated a run, but were unable to add to it as defensive showman (show-woman?) Casidy Chaumont gunned down a runner trying to get home.
In the fifth, Kim Wert added a solo home run of her own, making it 5-1, but Oregon responded with one of their own in the sixth. With just one inning to go, the Tigers immediately got two runners on, and Wert scored on an Alex Honnold groundout, making it 6-2. Desperately searching for some offense in the final inning, the Ducks bungled any last chance they had when Chaumont, at it AGAIN, fired a pitch to third to get the lead runner as she rounded the base too much. Weber closed it out for a complete game effort, and the Tigers won 6-2, taking down their second ranked team of the season (and first ranked higher than them). This was a HUGE win, y’all, and it would serve as a precursor for what was to come in the next three games.
- Brooke Wilmes: 2 R, 2 H, 1 RBI, 1 RBI
- Kara Daly: 2 H
- Kendyll Bailey: 2 H, 2 RBI
- Jordan Weber: 7 IP, CG, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 SO, 2 R, 2 ER
GAME TWO vs. Texas Tech
The story in Game Two was Laurin Krings’ masterful pitching performance, as she recorded 14 (!!) strikeouts for the Tigers, something that had not been achieved since Chelsea Thomas’ time at Mizzou, back in 2013.
It took both Missouri and Texas Tech a bit to get things going in this one, as the Tigers went down in order in the first, and a snazzy play by catcher Hatti Moore to Krings in the second was able to save a run from scoring. The Red Raiders scored first in this one, after a sac fly in the fifth brought home a runner on second. The Tigers, however, answered right back, and after a Casidy Chaumont double, Brooke Wilmes brought her in on a single to right. The Tigers loaded the bases, but were unable to plate any other runs.
In the bottom of the seventh, with the score knotted at one apiece, the Tigers had one last shot to walk it off. Brooke Wilmes singled and was able to move over on a Jenna Laird groundout, putting her in scoring position. Maddie Snider entered as a pinch runner for Wilmes, and was then moved over when Kim Wert grounded out. Jeff City native Kara Daly became the hero in this one, as her shot down the middle allowed Snider to score, and the Tigers were victorious, winning 2-1.
- Brooke Wilmes: 2 H, 1 RBI
- Kara Daly: 1 H, 1 RBI
- Kendyll Bailey: 1 R, 1 H, 1 RBI, 1 HR, 1 BB
- Casidy Chaumont: 1 R, 2 H, 1 2B
- Laurin Krings: 7 IP, CG, 3 H, 2 BB, 14 SO, 1 R, 1 ER
GAME THREE vs. No. 34 San Diego State
I was a bit nervous for this one, as San Diego State had beaten No. 5 Washington the night before, and as my preview mentioned, they are a tough team. The Tigers, however, jumped out to an early lead in this one, when a Kim Wert fly to left scored Brooke Wilmes, who was on base with a walk. With a 1-0 lead, Kara Daly hit a liner into center, scoring Laird from second. In the second inning, San Diego State caused fans (re: me) some anxiety, as they promptly loaded the bases after two walks and single. Coach Anderson called upon Megan Schumacher immediately to replace ace Jordan Weber, but the damage was done. SDSU scored one on a single, and then added three more on a bases clearing triple to right, giving them a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the Tigers got one run back when Casidy Chaumont’s single wasn’t fielded cleanly and allowed a run to score from first. For the next few innings, nothing of substance happened, until the fifth, when San Diego State was able to add another run on a lead off home run. Despite getting two more runners on in succession, Emma Nichols, who came in in relief of Schumacher, was able to keep them off the board.
In the sixth, Mizzou again responded, as Kendyll Bailey led off with a solo shot to left, making it 5-4. After a walk and a successful bunt, pinch hitter Vanessa Hollingsworth was able to tie the game with a single up the middle. The Tigers threatened a walkoff in the bottom of seventh when they loaded the bases with only one out, but they weren’t able to capitalize upon it, and to extras they went.
In the eighth, with a runner on second (due to international tiebreaker rules) and a subsequent HBP, SDSU was able to plate another run on a weird, slow grounder between first and second, making all of our hearts race. How would the Tigers respond? Surely they couldn’t walk off yet another game?
In the bottom of the eighth, a bunt got Kendal Cook - who was the starting runner on second base - over to third, and Chaumont took it yard, launching a two run shot to left to walk it off. TIGERS WIN 7-6.
- Jenna Laird: 1 R, 3 H
- Kara Daly: 1 H, 1 RBI
- Kendyll Bailey: 1 R, 1 H, 1 RBI, 1 HR, 1 BB
- Casidy Chaumont: 1 R, 2 H, 2 RBI, 1 HR
- Brooke Wilmes: 1 R, 1 H, 1 BB
- Emma Nichols: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 K, WIN
GAME FOUR vs. No. 5 Washington
If you had told me that Mizzou would run-rule the consensus no. 5 team in America and drive an All-American pitcher out of a game after 3.1 innings, I would have thought you were hallucinating and told you to go lay down. But that is exactly what the Tigers did against the Washington Huskies and their ace, Gabbie Plain. Facing the reigning PAC-12 Pitcher of the Year and Preseason First Team All-American, the Tigers hit early, and often. Like, really often. Like, so often they forced said ace out of the game after 3.1 IP. It was legitimately the worst start of her entire collegiate career, and I, for one, can’t stop smiling.
Laurin “Specs” Krings got the start on the mound and had a quick 1-2-3 top half of the inning before Brooke Wilmes led off with a solo homer to left center in the bottom half to put the Tigers up 1-0.
The Huskies threatened in the top of the second on a walk and an error by SS Jenna Laird (she hasn’t been as sharp with the glove so far this season, it seems), but Specs struck out the final two batters of the inning. In the third, Mizzou cracked the game wide open with an RBI single from Laird, which brought home Casidy Chaumont (she’s been GREAT this series), making it 2-0. The Tigers weren’t done that inning though, as Kim Wert’s single brought home Laird, and Kendyll Bailey cleared the bases with a two-run shot. At the end of the third inning, Mizzou was up 5-0.
In the fourth, Krings struck out two more, retiring the side in order, and because the Tigers were convinced they really needed to put the nail in the coffin of the Huskies, they continued their offensive onslaught in the bottom of the inning. Emma Raabe reached on a double before Chaumont, with her second hit of the day (and what seems like 5 millionth of the series), got aboard on an infield single. Brooke Wilmes then lined a single into left to bring in Chaumont, and it was 6-0. Laird then singled to load the bases and then, my God — when I tell you I screamed I am not being hyperbolic — Kim Wert hit a grand slam over the right-center fence, making it 10-0. To preserve the run-rule, Specs retired the next three Washington batters in order, and that was all she wrote. The Missouri Tigers had run-ruled the Washington Huskies by an emphatic score of 10-zip. Read it again. TEN TO NOTHING.
- Jenna Laird: 2 R, 2 H, 1 RBI, 1 SB
- Kim Wert: 2 R, 2 H, 5 RBI, 1 HR (grand slam)
- Kendyll Bailey: 1 R, 1 H, 2 RBI, 1 HR
- Brooke Wilmes: 2 R, 2 H, 2 RBI, 1 HR
- Laurin Krings: 5 IP, CG, 1 H, 7 K, bringing her ERA down to 1.73
This little tweet of mine went kinda viral, you guys. It’s wild. I’ve never had this level of engagement on my little twitter account. The impressions (AKA number of times it was seen) is currently at… 26k with around 750 engagements!!!!! [brushes shoulders off nonchalantly]
NEXT UP: No. 6 UCLA
For more information on their team, I once again direct you to my (very) comprehensive preview. If last night’s pitching choice is any indication, the Tigers will, in fact, be tasked with facing the Bruins’ ace, Megan Faraimo.
As for how UCLA has fared this weekend, they are also undefeated, beating Iowa State and Texas Tech on Friday (3-0 and 2-1, respectively) on great pitching performances by Lauren Shaw, making her Bruins’ debut (5 IP, 1 H) and Holly Azevedo in Game One, and Megan Faraimo, who tossed a 12 strikeout complete game against the Red Raiders in Game Two. The Bruins never got much going against the Lady Vols, and only managed three hits, while in Game Two, Kelli Godin and Delanie Wicz accounted for 3/6 of the team’s hits.
On Saturday, UCLA beat both Tennessee and Baylor (2-1 and 7-4, respectively) on excellent pitching by Faraimo and No. 2 starter, Holly Azevedo. Against Tennessee, which went 8 innings, Faraimo had a complete game, allowing only four hits, one run, and a walk, to go with 18 (!!!!) strikeouts. Anna Vines and Maya Brady were the offensive catalysts in that one, accounting for 3/6 of UCLA’s hits. And finally, against Baylor, Azevedo got off to a strong start, before ultimately getting relieved by Shaw after allowing three runs in the seventh. In her 6.1 innings, she allowed 7 hits and 4 ER, while walking three and striking out a dozen. The Bruins’ bats got going a bit more in this one, getting 9 hits, with Brady and Briana Perez knocking in a homer each and accounting for most of the offense.
Stay tuned to this post, as I’ll try once again to provide game updates in the comments as they’re coming in.