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SOFTBALL RECAP: Home Run Derby-esque performances, superior pitching leads Mizzou over Bradley, St. Thomas on Saturday and Sunday

Mizzou Softball run-ruled everybody this weekend, outscoring their opponents 42-3 while hitting .475 as a team.

Mizzou pitcher Laurin Krings gets Gatorade bath after throwing perfect game March 6
Mizzou Athletics

It was a weekend of epic proportions for Mizzou Softball (no. 10 in Monday’s new D1 Softball rankings). Facing the University of St. Thomas, who’s playing their first season in D-I, and Bradley University, the Tigers D-O-M-I-N-A-T-E-D. Miss Friday’s recap? Check it out, and then it’s time to feast your eyes upon this.

48 HITS. 10 DOUBLES. 2 TRIPLES. 14 HOME RUNS. 42 RUNS. 8 WALKS. 10 STRIKEOUTS. 13 LEFT ON BASE.

THIS (gestures wildly) is what the Tigers did this weekend in four run-ruled games and 22 (!) innings. Let that sink in.

There was even a home run montage for Saturday’s ten homers — yes, TEN.

Anyway, let’s stop showing off and get to the recaps, shall we?

SATURDAY vs. Bradley, 10am start

Mizzou jumped out to an early lead in the first inning on Saturday morning on RBI singles by both Kara Daly and Alex Honnold, but Bradley answered back with one of their own a solo shot in the top of the third. It wasn’t until the fifth when Mizzou’s bats came alive, and wow... did they. Riley Frizell launched her first home run of the season - a solo shot- to make to it 3-1. Then with two on, Kim Wert hit a grounder to short, but the throw home wasn’t in enough time to throw out Casidy Chaumont. Maddie Snider was caught stealing, after taking over for Wert on the bases (Wert is a self-proclaimed “not good runner,” explaining her ‘launch it or else’ plate appearances), so the bases were clear for Kara Daly’s crushing shot to right center, making it 5-1.

The Tigers weren’t done feasting just yet, as a wild pitch brought home Kendal Cook in the sixth, and Chaumont singled up the middle, making it 8-1. Brooke Wilmes then ended the game in walk-off run-rule fashion as she crushed a pitch down the right field line to give the Tigers a 10-1 victory.

Laurin Krings tied her career high in strikeouts - set just last week - with 14, and only allowed three hits (including two extra base hits— a triple and a home run, to lead off innings). In the postgame, Specs (not wearing specs, mind you) attributed her success so far this season to having a season under her belt and really learning what kind of pitcher she was then, which is allowing her to play looser and have more fun this year. She also gave credit to the players on the team.

“They [my teammates] work so hard behind me, and they go up to the plate and put up huge numbers like that,” she said. “And it just takes the pressure off me and I’m trying my best to get us back to where we were last year and farther.”

Coach Anderson spoke about this as well, noting that the only real trouble her flamethrower faced was at the beginning of an inning. So while Krings will need to make a couple tweaks and perhaps throw a few more practice throws to get into a groove earlier, Anderson has seen her progress, whereas last year, if she gave up a leadoff triple, she wouldn’t be able to let it go. This year, coach said, “She immediately shut them down, getting a popup in the next at-bat, and then two strikeouts, so that’s the maturity I absolutely love seeing.”

SATURDAY vs. St. Thomas, 12:30pm

Brooke Wilmes had A DAY on Saturday. After ending the morning’s game on a walk-off homer, she led off the afternoon game with another shot over the wall (the 32nd of her career/10th all-time). The Tigers weren’t done, however, and Kim Wert hit a double off the left field wall, bringing home Jenna Laird, who had been on base with a walk. Kara Daly then made it 4-0 on a two-run blast to left, and Alex Honnold followed that up with her own solo shot, driving Tommies’ pitcher Isabelle True from the game.

With a new pitcher, Grace Bennett, on the mound, Kendyll Bailey had her own shot. Yes, you read that right. Missouri hit three home runs... in a row, and four in a single inning, and it was 6-0 by the time the first inning ended.

Because of the extensive lead, Coach Anderson thought it would be best to get ace Jordan Weber some rest, so Megan Schumacher was brought into the game in relief to finish things off. In her first inning of work (the second inning), she was able to hold the Tommies scoreless, though they were able to get a couple runners aboard with a walk and a single. St. Thomas got no further than third though, and the half inning ended with a fielder’s choice out at second.

In the bottom of the second, the Tigers’ home run derby continued, as Wert smashed a home run to center, scoring Laird, who had been hit by a pitch. Wert moved into a tie for second in program history with that one, no. 46 of her career.

The top half of the third was uneventful, as Schumacher swiftly sent the side down in order on three groundouts. In the bottom of the inning though, Hatti Moore, who’s had some issues so far this season offensively (she’s batting under .200), hit her first bomb of the season, making it 9-0. It was the 36th of her career, by the way, and she now sits 8th all-time. Singles by Emma Raabe, Chantice Phillips and Wert followed the blast and made it 10-0.

St. Thomas left two runners stranded in the top of the fourth, but the threat was minimized by a strikeout to end the inning. In the bottom half of the inning, Julia Crenshaw launched her first career hit, a — you guessed it — home run to center, making it 11-0. It wasn’t until the top of the fifth when St. Thomas finally plated some runs on a sac fly and RBI single, but it was too late for them at that point. Mizzou was again victorious, winning 11-2 in five innings.

Schumacher’s line: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 0 XBH

From D1 Softball on the Tigers’ offensive explosion:

Even by Missouri standards, the production was impressive. The Tigers hit 10 home runs in two games on Saturday that were both shortened by run rule. They hit a program-record seven home runs in an 11-2 five-inning victory over St. Thomas, including four home runs in the first inning alone. Brooke Wilmes, Kara Daly, Alex Honnold and Kendyll Bailey all homered in the first inning. Kimberly Wert went yard in the second, Hatti Moore in the third and Julia Crenshaw went deep in the fourth. Wert’s home run placed her second all-time in program history for career home runs with 46. She is one big swing away from a tie for first place. In the opening game of the day, Mizzou hit three home runs in a 10-1 win over Bradley in six innings. Wilmes hit the walk-off homer to secure the win. Laurin Krings got the win in the circle, tying the career high in strikeouts she set last weekend with 14.

In the postgame, Kim Wert talked about the team’s approach. “If they [the opposing pitchers] put it over the plate,” she said, “our job is to hit it hard. Yeah, we’re going to get out sometimes, but if we hit it hard, it makes it harder for the other team to obviously get us out. And we all know it, so that’s where we’re at.”

SUNDAY vs. Bradley, 12:30pm

Sunday’s game, while I didn’t see it - stupid work and more stupid SEC+ not figuring out their tech issues - was perfection. Mizzou’s offense was again on fire, but the story was the pitching. (insert heart eye emojis)

For just the 12th time in Mizzou Softball history, a Mizzou pitcher threw a perfect game. Laurin Krings tossed six innings of shutout ball, striking out 12 batters, including six consecutive between the first and third innings. This was Mizzou’s first perfect game since Chelsea Thomas threw a five-inning PG vs. Saint Louis, and the first perfect game of six innings or longer since Thomas shut down Missouri State in 2011.

In the postgame, coach Larissa Anderson spoke highly of her starter, marveling at her control and command, while also adding that getting up some runs on the scoreboard takes some of the pressure off. “Laurin was just spot on,” she said, “throwing both sides of the plate real dominant. The difference was she was very effective with her change up today.” (side note: does that mean she wasn’t effective with her change when she K’ed 14 people the day before?)

Behold. The video. Her stuff is nasty.

Alas, for the fourth consecutive game this weekend, the Tigers run-ruled an opponent, winning 8-0 in six innings. The Tigers took a quick lead in the first on a Jenna Laird RBI that brought home Brooke Wilmes, who was on second after a throwing error. While Laird was thrown out attempting to reach third — more on that later — Missouri got on the board first, up 1-0. In the second, the Tigers once again allowed their bats to do the talking, and with the bases loaded and one out, a Casidy Chaumont double off the center field wall scored two. A run-down caused Riley Frizell to be tagged out — again, more on that later — and Wilmes singled up the middle to score Chaumont, making it 4-0.

In the third, the Tigers struck again, as Kara Daly hit a solo homer to left, her fourth of the series. Bradley nearly got a base runner in the fourth, as Krings fell behind 2-0 to the lead off batter, but she helped her own cause in snagging a sharply-hit ground ball up the middle to make the play. In the fifth, Specs struck out the side, and according to Sports Information Director Paul McCaw’s notes (thank you, Paul), this was the one time all game Krings allowed a three-ball count. As if that wasn’t enough— she really was just showing off that this point, wasn’t she? — she also struck out the side in the sixth.

At the bottom of the sixth, up 5-0, Missouri pulled out all the stops to end the game and preserve Krings’ perfect game. The Tigers quickly loaded the bases on a Kendyll Bailey single, Megan Moll single, and an Emma Raabe walk. Chaumont once again played hero, and smacked a liner up the middle, and because the outfield was respecting her power by playing back at the warning track, it allowed two runs to score. With runners on second and third and the Tigers now up 7-0, Brooke Wilmes played hero, lining the very first pitch into to right to end the game, 8-0.

Oh, and let’s not forget Chaumont’s highlight reel defense, which once again showed up on Sunday. (side note: not sure on the inning this happened)

A FEW MORE NOTES:

Before the weekend series with ranked Tennessee (no. 16 in D1 softball’s new rankings), the aforementioned base running snafus will need to be cleaned up. Coach Anderson mentioned in the postgame that she’ll go back and analyze it a bit, but she’s never going to be mad at them for being too aggressive on the base paths.

“[Was it] because they were too aggressive or were they just poor decisions? I think some of the some of the things where Casidy Chaumont hit that ball to the gap and she’s rounding second and really ran Frizell out of the inning off the base, that’s not a very good decision. Versus Jenna Laird getting thrown out at third, that’s aggressiveness.”

She said when they’re scrimmaging in practice, oftentimes the backup players are running the bases to put pressure on the starting defense, but that might need to be flip-flopped so her starters can have more live reads. This sounds like an excellent idea, as this was the one concern those of us in the press box this weekend talked about during the games. Gotta clean that up before the big dogs come to town.

TOP WEEKEND PERFORMERS:

  • Casidy Chaumont: .700 BA, 3 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBI, 2 4-RBI games, hitting streak at 9 games
  • Laurin Krings: struck out 26/40 batters she faced this weekend.
  • Everyone who hit a home run, and there were NINE of them (click their names for the videos, if available): Kara Daly / Hatti Moore / Kendyll Bailey / Alex Honnold / Julia Crenshaw (G3) / Riley Frizell / Brooke Wilmes / Kim Wert / Casidy Chaumont
  • Kara Daly: .636 BA, 4 HR, 1 2B, 9 RBI, 1.818 SLG%.

Next up: The Tigers take on Tennessee Friday at 5pm. I’ll examine their season thus far later in the week. Follow me on the twitters as I share some stuff on @RockMNation and from my personal twitter, @KarenSteger during the games.