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SOFTBALL RECAP: The Long Ball Chronicles

The no. 25 Tigers - now winners of six straight - came into Mizzou Softball Stadium, saw the Aggies’ pitching, and did some damage.

@MizzouSoftball | twitter

On a beautiful but gusty late Saturday afternoon, as their baseball friends wreaked havoc upon Mississippi State next door, the Tigers took the field at Mizzou Softball Stadium on Alumni Day, looking for yet another series victory.

What they walked away with was a good ol’ fashioned offensive arse whoopin, more timely pitching, another conference win, sole possession of sixth place, and good vibes— yes, this team’s current vibes are indeed immaculate right now.

When asked about how much it matters that the Tigers are getting big results against good teams, Coach Anderson said, “It’s eye opening, I think for everybody else. You know, when teams start to peak at the end of the season, no one else wants to play you because they know that you’re playing really, really well. And that’s tough to go up against a team when you know they’re playing so well.”

What will become clear as you read the recap, dear readers, is Mizzou’s ability to seemingly hit the long ball at will decided this game, as it’s decided countless others. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Mizzou jumped out in front from the jump in this one, as a Kendyll Bailey double into the left center gap put both her and Brooke Wilmes - on base with a walk - in scoring position for Kim Wert, who’s sac fly to right made it 1-0 in the first.

Missouri pitcher Laurin Krings didn’t seem to have her best stuff at the beginning of this one, but regardless was able to escape jams in both the first and second inning, leaving the Tigers to pile on the offense in the bottom of the third. In what became a four-run inning, Jenna Laird and Wilmes led off with infield singles and then executed a perfect double steal to put themselves in scoring position before — of course it’s her — KIM WERT (!) crushed a 1-2 pitch over the center field wall to make it 4-0. Back-to-back walks for Alex Honnold and Kara Daly allowed another run to score as Emma Raabe plated an RBI single.

In the bottom of the fifth, Kara Daly got in on the long ball fun, smashing a two-run shot to right, bringing home Snider, who was pinch running for Wert after a walk. There was a chance they’d get wreak even more havoc upon the Texas A&M pitching staff, but the two runners in scoring position — Raabe (walk, replaced by McGivern) and Moore (single) — were left on base.

It wasn’t until the sixth that the Aggies finally capitalized upon the base runners they’d had all game, as until this point, Specs had done a miraculous job keeping Texas A&M run-less. Katie Dack, who’s been one of the few successful Aggies hitters this series, got on board with a solo homer, making it 7-1. In the seventh, after Texas A&M reliever (in this game anyway) McKinzy Herzog struck out the side, Haley Lee (largely invisible this series) doubled and scored on a Morgan Smith single. With two on base and our collective Tiger hearts beating rapidly in our chests just hoping for a swift ending, Krings was able to get out of a final jam and earn her 13th win of the season. Mizzou secured the series win with a 7-2 victory.

In the postgame, Coach Anderson called Krings’ pitching performance, “Very solid.” She continued, “She made some outstanding pitches. I thought that she really kept them off balance with her changeup, which was really the key for her to be successful.”

Stat Lines

Mizzou offense: 7 R | 7 H | 4 SO | 9 LOB

Specs’ stats: 7 IP | CG | 7 H | 2 ER | 5 BB | 5 K | 1 2B | 1 HR | 32 BF | 139 pitches

A&M offense: 2 R | 7 H | 2 RBI | 1 2B | 1 HR | 5 BB | 5 SO | 6 LOB

Kennedy’s stats: 2.2 IP | 4 H | 5 ER | 4 BB | 1 K | 1 2B | 1 HR | 16 BF | 70 pitches

Uribe’s stats: 2.1 IP | 3 H | 2 ER | 1 HR | 2 BB | 0 K | 12 BF | 44 pitches

Herzog’s stats: 1 IP | 3 K | 3 BF | 16 pitches

What Went Well

  • The Tigers were quite successful against Texas A&M pitching again, which featured the same pitchers as game one- though in a different order. While Herzog held them in check last night, the Tigers got to both Kennedy (the de facto no. 2) and Uribe. Mizzou batted .292 overall, including .333 with two outs, and .462 with runners on. Additionally, the Tigers batted .375 with runners in scoring position, and .333 from leadoff. These numbers have been truly off-the-charts outstanding these last two series.
  • Base running!!! The Tigers were able to execute a perfect double steal. Additionally, Missouri turned two impressive double plays it keep Aggie batters off the bases. And they once again held Texas A&M firmly to their bases, keeping the steal-happy team planted.
  • Despite working herself into several jams, Laurin Krings stayed the course, and was able to pull off a 7-inning complete game. She held the Aggies to .259 overall at the plate, including .125 with two outs and .077 with runners on. Pivotally, Specs also was able to strike out All-American Haley Lee twice, and only gave up one hit to her — a double.

When asked about having to deal with a lot of runners out there, Krings reminded us that, “they’re gonna get hits. It’s just going to happen.” But at the same time, she knew she could rely upon her defense, such as Jenna Laird and Kendyll Bailey, to help her out and that she’s not expected to get them all out herself.

On how she prepared for Saturday’s game, she said:

“I definitely learned a lot watching yesterday (Friday) and Jordan and Maddie (Norman) came up and talked to me about what they saw the hitters doing. Hatti mentioned she knew where they stood in the box and told me basically, what their tactics were and what I needed to look for.”

  • Emma Raabe has reached base in five of her last six plate appearances. She’s been a real unsung hero for this Tiger team lately, as she went 1-for-1 with an RBI single and two walks on Saturday.

What Didn’t

  • I hate to put Krings’ performance here as well, but the five (!) walks and the hits, even though they didn’t result in much of anything, could have spelled disaster if not for her teammates. Laurin also allowed the Aggies to hit .286 from lead-off, which has been a pretty common issue for her all season long. Her focus, as Coach Anderson has continually preached, needs to be there immediately.
  • Kendyll Bailey, while she was also part of two pivotal double plays, had a few gaffs in the field, including what could have been a costly error on a routine ground ball, and another where she just wasn’t able to get her glove down fast enough to nab a grounder coming up the middle. Krings told us that after that error, she reminded KB in the dugout that she has her back and that’s okay. “Forget about it,” she told her.
  • The Tigers may have figured out the Haley Lee problem, but they have NOT figured out how to stop Mo Smith, who was 4-for-4 at the plate with an RBI, and have continued to have trouble with freshman Katie Dack, who got aboard with two walks and had another home run. It should be pointed out, at least in Smith’s case, the Tigers largely limited any damage she may have caused. She only had one RBI, and didn’t score herself.
  • Chaumont is in the middle of a mini slump this series, as she was held hitless for the second straight day. Additionally, a day after Alex Honnold was a remarkable 4-for-4 at the plate, she was hitless Saturday (against the same pitchers), though she did have a walk and ended up scoring.

Karen’s Players of the Game

  • Kim “I can’t hit homeruns EVERY at-bat” Wert went 1-for-2 at the plate with a homer, a walk, a sac fly, and four RBI. After joking around with her that she’s probably “disappointed” in only getting one home run today, we talked with her about the other ways she contributed.

“Having a quality at-bat is the goal every time you step into the box,” she said. “I mean, if you can get on base, it doesn’t really matter. I was 3-for-4 with quality ABs today, and honestly, that’s the goal. My only thing is, I will never get on base with a bunt. That’s pretty much it. Other than that, I’ll try everything else.”

SIDE NOTE: Wert is a character, y’all, and I will very much miss talking to her. She’s hilarious and so comfortable with us that I think she could probably just come in and do an opening statement of her own without us even asking her anything. She ended her press conference today with, “Eat those Lucky Charms, kids.”

  • Kara Daly was 1-for-2 with a walk, and her two-run shot put an exclamation point on the Tigers’ win Saturday. When asked about her approach in Game 2, Daly said, “I just kept it simple. I just wanted to help my teammates out, my pitcher out. I knew that going into it, we wanted to keep the momentum on our side. I just wanted to do everything I could.”

As for her growth this season, she said a lot of it has been working on her mental game. Just trying to stay mentally there and focus because it’s easy to get distracted a lot of the time. Additionally, she’s had “talks with Mich (hitting coach Michaela Transue) about how to approach games and how to approach her batting.”

  • Brooke Wilmes’ hitting streak reached 10 games with a 1-for-3 game. She also scored two runs, was part of that double steal, and had a walk.

What Coach Had to Say

On the win, and moving forward:

“The (series) win is huge. You want to have success going into postseason for the selection committee, because they want the best teams to go to the postseason and they want the teams that are playing well at the end of the season. So yes, to carry that momentum, and just in terms of seeing the ball well and having great outings and building that confidence to carry into the end of the regular season and into the post season.”

“We played well at the beginning of the year, but right now we have everything clicking and what I’m seeing is the trust factor. Like they really do believe in one another and they’re trusting what they’re doing. Even when we make mistakes, you can see that they’re picking each other up because they trust that everyone’s bought in.”

Up Next

Game Three is scheduled for today at 1pm on SEC Network. Tickets are still available!

Mizzou will honor its lengthy list of seniors after the game, as we bid a home finale adieu to Kendyll Bailey, Alexis Burks, Casidy Chaumont, Abby George, Hatti Moore, Emma Raabe, Brooke Wilmes, and Kim Wert. We’ve already asked SID Paul McCaw if we can speak with all the seniors as a group in the postgame, so we anticipate a lively discussion.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Read the Game One recap. And check out the robust preview!

As always, stay up to date on all things Mizzou Softball this season by following me, @KarenSteger, and @RockMNation. I’ll have previews and recaps for each of Missouri’s series. When available, I’ll also be firing off some tweets from both accounts.