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Tigers’ offensive firepower paves the way in rout over St. Thomas in first game of Mizzou Classic

The Tigers hit .593 as a team in show over D-III turned D-I team St. Thomas.

@MizzouSoftball, twitter

Mizzou Softball is back home in the Show Me State, and I can’t tell you how good it felt to see them play in person. In front of approximately 1200 fans on a Friday afternoon, the Tigers tore through the University of St. Thomas, who’s playing their first season in D-I after moving up from the D-III ranks this year. The Tigers knocked around the Tommies’ pitchers for 16 hits and 13 runs, including nine — yes, NINE — extra base hits.

When asked about the crowd, freshman Kara Daly, playing in front of home fans for the first the first time in a Tiger uniform was seriously impressed, called the atmosphere “insane” and “unimaginable,” saying it was just unreal to actually be playing on the team instead of being in the crowd. Casidy Chaumont echoed her statements and was surprised and impressed at the turnout given the game time (not everyone gets off work at 4 like yours truly).

Senior Megan Baniecke took the L for the Tommies, and her tough season continued, lasting only 1.2 innings. She gave up six hits and three earned runs, striking out one before she was replaced by senior Kendall Hopkins, who didn’t have much more luck against the Tigers’ offensive onslaught, allowing five earned runs on four hits in 1.2 innings. She was then replaced by Grace Bennett, who was ALSO knocked around, allowing six hits and four earned runs in her 1.0 innings. The Tommies also had significant trouble with their defensive execution, having trouble corralling the ball and making what Mizzou players look like easy catches.

But enough about that; let’s get to the good stuff. How, my friends, did the Tigers exactly get 13 runs? Let’s start at the beginning.

Brooke Wilmes, batting lead off for the Tigers in the bottom of the first, singled to left on a 2-0 count, and advanced on a Jenna Laird single, also to left. Kim Wert was next, and singled to — you guess it — left field, advancing to second on the throw. Wilmes scored and the Tigers were up 1-0 on three consecutive hits before a strikeout and pop-up ended the inning.

Starter Jordan Weber faced the minimum in the top of the second, striking out her second batter of the afternoon, and the Tigers came up to bat in the bottom of the second swinging for the fences once again. This time, it was Alex Honnold leading things off for Missouri, and she promptly doubled to center field on a 2-1 count. Emma Raabe flied out, and Honnold advanced to third on a wild pitch before Casidy Chaumont, picking up right where she left off at the Mary Nutter Classic, doubled to center, scoring Honnold. Yes, she was called out at third trying to nab an extra base, but whatever. I admire the hustle. Wilmes was up next, and smashed a home run to right center, driving St. Thomas starting pitcher Megan Baniecke from the game (she actually just moved to first base). Kendall Hopkins came in in relief, and after a Laird double to center and a walk to Wert, Daly homered to center, and suddenly it was 6-0.

In Weber’s final inning, she once again faced the minimum on two fly outs and a strikeout looking. It was during this inning that LF Casidy Chaumont produced a diving highlight-reel catch in foul territory. Seriously, look at this. SPEECHLESS.

In the postgame presser, Chaumont was asked about not only her defensive prowess but also that of her teammates, and she mentioned the team’s goal to really try and defend the pitcher. “We really want to give them that no-no if possible, so anything in the air, in the outfield and on the ground, we’re going for it. We’re trying to get them those outs and back them up as much as possible,” she said.

In the bottom of the inning, after a Kendyll Bailey ground out and a Honnold walk, Raabe reached on a fielding error by the center fielder, advancing the runner to second. Gabi Deters took over for Raabe on second, and OMG, Chaumont did it again. In a weird sequence, she hit a long ball to center, but it didn’t appear at first to be a home run. After a review, it was changed to a homer and the Tigers were suddenly up 9-0. Wilmes flied out and Laird tripled, but a Wert fly-out ended the inning, leaving a runner on base for the Tigers for the first time. I should mention, this was the only time they left a runner on base ALL GAME.

In the fourth, with Megan Schumacher now on the mound, the Tigers retired the side in order on two grounders and a strikeout. Did you think the Tigers were done scoring? NOPE. Daly singled to lead off the inning, who was replaced by Maddie Snider on the bases. Moore also singled, and Bailey’s double to right scored two more runs, but she ended up out at second. After a Vanessa Hollingworth ground out, Gabi Deters singled to left. Chantice Phillips then singled to right and Kelsee Mortimer hit a bases-clearing triple, bringing home both Phillips and Deters, making it 13-0.

In the fifth and what would be the final inning, the Tigers made wholesale changes in the field, bringing in Riley Frizell, Julia Crenshaw, Maddie Snider, Megan Moll, Vanessa Hollingworth, and Chantice Phillips in the field, while freshman Jayci Kruse got her first innings of the season.

Coach Anderson said in the postgame this was a conscious decision on her part to try and get everyone playing time, mentioning all but two players saw the field, and she’s saving two pitchers for tomorrow.

“The goal coming in was to put as many runs as on the board early, so we can get some of those backup players into the game when the pressure is not on them,” she said. “They need that game experience and i’m just i’m so proud of our ABs. You know it’s real easy when you score early to kind of relax a little bit and lose focus because you know you have a comfortable lead.”

It wasn’t until the final inning that St. Thomas was able to get a runner aboard, and they got several, but all in odd circumstances that didn’t actually result in an official “hit” on the scorecard. First, Hudson reached on a throwing error by the SS. Baniecke then reached on a fielder’s choice, getting the lead runner out at second. Carby followed up with another fielder’s choice, again getting the lead runner out at second. And to wrap the inning up with a weird little bow, Miller then reached on yet another fielder’s choice, getting the final lead runner out at second to end the game.

StatBroadcast told an entertaining tale of this one, as the Tigers hit .593 as a team and .636 with two outs. They hit .563 with runners on - which seemed like it was basically all the time - and .750 (!!!) from the lead-off position.

When asked in the postgame about the Tigers’ focus going into the game, Daly said, “We just want to hit balls hard, we want that long ball. We really want to make their defense work, and we just want to hit as hard as we can.”

I would say mission firmly accomplished on that front, huh?

Additionally, while the Tigers finally allowed some base runners in the fifth inning, none actually resulted in a recorded hit, due to error and three fielders’ choices. Meaning, the Tigers put up a combined no-no, their second of the year.

One more thing from Coach Anderson’s postgame, just because I thought this was cool, and it kinda goes with my preview comments. On the level of competition they’ll be facing this weekend and this season, she said:

“We know what we’re capable of. We know what our standard is and we know what we’re trying to accomplish. We just have to go out every single game and make sure that we take care of Mizzou Softball. We don’t worry about who we’re playing tomorrow we don’t worry about what’s going to happen next weekend.”

“It’s looking at ourselves and what do we need to do in order to be successful, regardless replaying St Thomas or Bradley tomorrow or Tennessee next weekend.”

I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next. Catch up on all things Mizzou Classic in my extensive preview on the site.

See y’all tomorrow as the Tigers take on Bradley at 10am and St. Thomas again at 12:30pm. Follow me on the twitters as I share some stuff on @RockMNation and from my personal twitter, @KarenSteger.