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SOFTBALL RECAP: Cats no match for Tigers’ roaring offense

How ‘bout a run-rule offensive masterpiece and dominant pitching to kick off the weekend?

All smiles from the Home Run Queen, Kim Wert

It was a beautiful and sunny 81-degree day at John Cropp Stadium for a game one matchup between our unranked (but still receiving some votes) Missouri Tigers and the no. 9/12 Kentucky Wildcats. It was ‘bring your dog to the park’ day, and an approximate crowd of about 1500 was on hand… for an absolute beatdown. A Kentucky (Homerun) Derby, if you will... You really love to see it, don’t you?

So, how did it go down? Let’s find out!

The Tigers’ bats got going from the jump in this one with Sloan Gayan (4-3 | 2.72 ERA | 36 IP) on the mound, when Brooke Wilmes got her first hit (of four on the day) with a double down the right field line with one out. After Casidy Chaumont was hit by a pitch, Kim Wert CRUSHED an 0-1 pitch off the foul pole in left field, and Mizzou was up 3-0. After a Kendyll Bailey ground out to short, Alex Honnold and Kara Daly got aboard with back-to-back singles, before Alex was called out at the plate trying to make it home. I liked the aggressive baserunning approach; it just didn’t work out.

Jordan Weber took the mound for the black & gold and showed right away that she was not playing around, swiftly going three-up, three-down on a strikeout of world-beater Kayla Kowalik, a fly out to CF, and a popup by the other Kentucky star (and current SEC Player of the Week), Erin Coffel.

In the second inning, with Madison Stoddard now on the mound for the Cats, Missouri decided those three runs just weren’t enough. Emma Raabe reached on a fielding error by the first baseman to lead off the inning. Hatti Moore reached on a fielders choice (PR Maddie Snider out at 2nd), and Jenna Laird was then hit by a pitch. Wilmes’ single to right — the same location as the previous hit — loaded the bases for Chaumont, who struck out looking, before a WERT BOMB came along. Kim smashed a 1-0 pitch over the left field wall (pretty close to the locale of her first one), and the Tigers went up 7-0.

In the bottom of the second, Weber struck out her second batter of the day before allowing her first base runners on a bunt and single by Stoddard. A strikeout (no. 3) and a pop out ending the inning. Kentucky again tried to get something going in the third against Jo, taking a different approach at the plate and aggressively swinging at first pitches. It worked… a little? She allowed two infield singles with one away, but induced two pop outs to end the inning. Those Cats were no match for Weber’s [fire emojis] on Saturday.

In the top of the fourth, after a Laird fly out to RF, Wilmes singled to right again, and Chaumont reached on a fielder’s choice, but an error at second kept Brooke on second as well. Wert was up next and no, she didn’t hit another home run, but she did smack a single to center that resulted in an errant throw home that went to the backstop. Due to the Cats’ continued shifty fielding on the day, both Wilmes and CC scored, making it 9-0 Mizzou.

Kentucky again attempted to get something going in the bottom half of the inning as KB’s uncharacteristic error at second (which led to an awkward disagreement amongst the tv announcers) allowed a runner to get on, but it didn’t really matter as Jo proceeded to strike out the next three batters— no. 4 to 6 of the day— and keep this [chef’s kiss] beautiful game going.

In the fifth, with Kennedy Sullivan now on the mound, Daly led off with a walk on four straight balls (she was on base in every AB) before Raabe absolutely DEMOLISHED a first pitch shot that went off the scoreboard to make it 11-0. The Tigers weren’t done in that inning though, as Hatti walked and Laird reached on another fielders choice. Wilmes then added an RBI single (to center this time, just to switch things up) to score Moore.

Sullivan was yanked out of the game at this point after getting exactly zero outs, and Kentucky brought in Alexia Lacatena to do what no other Wildcats pitcher could do on the day— stop the Tigers (Spoiler Alert- she didn’t either). After a Chaumont popup, Megan Moll, pinch hitting for Kim Wert, hit a first pitch sac fly to center to score Laird, putting the last of the nails in the run-rule coffin at 13-0.

Jo came back out in the bottom of the inning to preserve the run-rule. The leadoff batter flew out to the LF warning track before Kowalik — about the only one with any success against our girl Jordan on the day — singled up the middle. A strike out (no. 7) put two away, and down to their final out, Weber forced a pop out from Coffel to end the game. Poetry.

Stat Lines

Missouri Offense: 13 R | 11 H | 11 RBI | 1 2B | 3 HR | 2 BB | 4 SO | 3 LOB

Weber’s stats: 5 IP | 5 H | 0 R | 0 BB | 7 SO | 1 WP | 21 BF | 7 FO | 1 GO | 74 pitches

Kentucky Offense: 0 R | 5 H | 0 BB | 7 SO | 6 LOB

Gayan’s stats: 1 IP | 4 H | 3 R | 3 ER | 1 HBP | 1 2B | 1 HR | 7 BF | 22 pitches

Stoddard’s stats: 3 IP | 5 H | 6 R | 0 ER | 3 K | 1 HBP | 1 HR | 17 BF | 53 pitches

Sullivan’s stats: 0 IP | 2 H | 4 R | 4 ER | 2 BB | 1 HR | 5 BF | 20 pitches

Lacatena’s stats: 1 IP | 1 K | 3 BF | 8 pitches

What Went Well

Ummmm…. Everything? I mean that, pretty literally. It all went well.

  • The Tigers hit quite well with two outs, getting 4 RBI off of them, and hit .412 with runners on. That’s… phenomenal. They also hit .400 when leading off (vs .200 for UK), and .556 with runners in scoring position. Again, cheers all around.
  • Mizzou hit .407 (vs. Kentucky’s .238)
  • Despite not recording a hit — she was hit by a pitch though — Jenna Laird scored two runs and got aboard on a FC.

What Didn’t (I had to really think about this)

  • Out of Missouri’s four strikeouts, three of them were looking (Chaumont- 2nd, Honnold- 3rd, Crenshaw- 5th). Chaumont’s K was on three straight strikes.
  • I would have liked to see Julia Crenshaw get in the game earlier with it so far out of hand. The rookie came in very highly ranked and would love to see her get some more ABs. Her sporadic playing time can’t be doing much to give her any sense of rhythm, but you know Coach has her reasons.
  • Unfortunately, Kendyll Bailey’s 18 game on-base streak officially ended (RIP), as she went 0-for-3 at the plate and couldn’t get aboard. And while it ultimately didn’t end up mattering, she did make an error in the fourth inning that could have led to something.

Karen’s Players of the Game

  • Kim “The Homer” Wert: After breaking the all-time homer run record in early April, Wert had gone homer-less, so I guess she figured she needed to show everyone she could still do it today? She was 3-for-3 with a pair of homers and 7 RBI (her career-best). According to Paul McCaw’s notes, her 7 RBI day is tied for third in program history for a single game. This was the second grand slam of the year for the Tigers. Guess who hit the other one? KIM.WERT.
  • Brooke Wilmes: Wilmes was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate on Saturday, hitting a double and three singles, and recorded an RBI. Wilmes is now second in Mizzou history with 54 doubles, and she’s alone in third place with her 196th run. (thanks, Paul)
  • Kara Daly: We know the Jeff City freshman has had a rough go in SEC play so far this season as teams have basically figured out how to pitch to her and get her to swing at bad pitches out the zone in an attempt to hit everything. She was just doing too much… until today! Daly was 2-for-2 today, with a double and a walk.
  • Jordan Weber: Jo was truly awesome on Saturday, striking out seven with no extra base hits and no walks. She was efficient, she forced weak contact, and it just seemed like everything was working again, much like last weekend.
  • Emma Raabe: I mentioned this in my recap last weekend, but Raabe really seems to be seeing the ball better right now, and is starting to look more like the Emma of last year. The homer today was her second of the year, both of which she’s hit in the past few weeks, if I’m remembering correctly.

Up Next

Tune in for Game Two tonight at 6pm on the SEC Network!

Expect to see Specs on the mound, and - based solely on my thoughts - perhaps Kentucky counters with Tatum Spangler? She’s only thrown 31 innings on the year but leads the team in ERA (0.68) and WHIP (1.03), and is 6-0 on the season. As my preview mentioned, the only true UK pitcher with starter’s type innings is Miranda Stoddard, who threw 3IP in game one, so really, your guess is as good as mine!