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NCAA RECAP: KKKKKKKKKKKKrings has a day, Tigers best MO State to open Columbia Regional

Laurin Krings was phenomenal, and the Tigers breathed a sigh of relief… for the night, anyway.

The Missouri Tigers celebrate their opening win against the Missouri State Bears in the NCAA Columbia Regional, May 20, 2022
@MizzouSoftball | twitter

With undoubtedly the largest crowd of the season on hand at Mizzou Softball Stadium (UPDATE: 2781 - released later), mostly clad in black & gold, the Missouri Tigers opened their Columbia Regional against cross-state rivals, Missouri State. Laurin Krings was tabbed to start for the Tigers — it was “purely matchup based” according to Coach Anderson — and she did not disappoint.

Specs worked around a few jams, but overall was HIGHLY effective, stymieing the Bears left and right with her devastating off speed pitches. She had everything working for her on Friday afternoon, the defense was again terrific, and the Tiger offense really seemed to have their way with Missouri State starter, Steffany Dickerson (1.66 ERA | 21-7 | 169 K | .221 OppBA). While they only managed to score three runs (more on that in a bit), the Tigers lit up Dickerson for 10 hits while only striking out twice.

Let’s get to the recap.

You could tell right away that this was going to be a good Laurin Krings day as she went three-up, three-down to kick the game off with a pair of strikeouts (her first of MANY). And you could also tell it’d be a good defensive day, too as Brooke Wilmes dove for a ball in center to grab the first out of the game. There was much more of all of that to come.

The offense immediately looked like it had come to play, as Wilmes smashed a double in the bottom of the first up the middle, and Kim Wert’s hard hit single that followed was in the same place. Larissa Anderson’s decision to hold Wilmes up at third was a curious one— it seemed like she could have scored — and a line out ended the inning, stranding two.

Coach Anderson said in the postgame she’d need to consult the tape on that particular call because this was the first game with a four man crew. “I was screened by the umpire,” she said. “I never saw her (the Missouri State player) even drop it and it wasn’t until I was in the dugout that (Asst Coach) Michaela Transue asked, ‘What happened out there?’ So again, the umpire got in my way.”

Missouri State’s first hit came in the top of the second off the bat of pitcher Steffany Dickerson, but Specs quickly shut their offense down, striking out the remaining two batters. After the Tigers stranded another runner in the bottom of the inning, the Bears came out firing. On a questionable hit by pitch call (a review confirmed it), the leadoff batter got aboard. A strikeout — Specs’ sixth of the day already— got a much needed out before MSU’s best hitter, Daphne Plummer, was able to get on base on a misplayed bunt by Krings. A flyout to center would have possibly advanced the runners, but they wisely held firm — Wilmes has an arm, after all — before a walk loaded the bases. However, a strikeout ended the threat, and Krings stranded three. This was the only time all game I kinda held my breath.

In the bottom of the third, Mizzou’s offense finally produced some RUNS! With the top of the order due up, Wilmes smacked another double to the right field wall before Wert — yes, you read that right — legged out a single, showing some hidden speed and beating the throw to put runners at the corners. Maddie Snider predictably came in to take over on the base-paths, and the Tigers’ first of two runs that inning scored on a Kendyll Bailey ground out. Alex Honnold then reached first on a bobbled play by the first baseman (I think it was ruled an error), and Snider, utilizing her SEC Speed ™ scored, making it 2-0 Mizzou.

After another three-up, three-down fourth inning by Krings which featured her eighth and ninth strikeouts of the game, the Tigers had a chance to add on more. After a line out by Chaumont to lead off, Hatti Moore singled over the shortstop’s head and Jenna Laird hit a shot off the glove of the third baseman. Unfortunately, Wilmes lined out (her only time not getting on base the whole game) and the Tigers stranded two more. They stranded yet two more in the bottom of the fifth, as a KB single through the left side followed by a single by Daly got runners to the corners, but a strikeout ended the inning.

In the top of the sixth, the Bears finally got on the board with two away, scoring their first (and only) run of the day on a single to center after Krings’ only allowed extra base hit - a double - led off the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, Hatti Moore, who was GREAT on Friday afternoon and is really getting her swing back, led off with a single to left before Emma Raabe’s sac bunt moved her over into scoring position. Jenna Laird was called out at first, but the hit allowed pinch runner Kendal Cook to move to third for Brooke Wilmes. I guess the thought of having to pitch to “Bear Mauler” Wilmes again was too much for starting pitcher Dickerson or her coach, and she was removed from the game in favor of Madison Hunsaker. Wilmes hit the ball into the gap and the second baseman couldn’t make a play, which brought home an insurance run, making it 3-1 Mizzou.

In her final inning of work, Specs brought the heat, and after an infield popup to Daly and a ground out back to her, she struck out the final batter on a filthy off-speed pitch to secure the win.

Stat Lines

Mizzou offense: 3 R | 10 H | 2 RBI | 2 2B | 1 BB | 2 K | 9 LOB

Krings’ stats: 7 IP | CG | 6 H | 1 ER | 1 BB | 12 SO | 1 2B| 1 HBP | 29 BF | 112 pitches

Missouri State offense: 1 R | 6 H | 1 RBI | 1 2B | 12 K | 7 LOB

Dickerson’s stats: 5.2 IP | 9 H | 3 R | 2 ER | 1 BB | 1 SO | 2 XBH | 28 BF | 117 pitches

Hunsaker’s stats: 0.1 IP | 1 H | 2 BF | 4 pitches

What Went Well

  • Mizzou hit .370 overall in this one, including .300 with two outs, and .278 with runners on. The leadoff batters also hit .333 (though MSU’s hit .429). .333 is very good, so we’ll keep that as a plus.
  • The pitching. DUH. (More on that in a bit)
  • After hitting two infield pop ups in her first two ABs, Kara Daly was able to keep at it and get aboard when her third such infield pop up was misplayed.
  • Six different Tigers got hits, including Kendyll Bailey, who’s single advanced the runners in the sixth, Jenna Laird, and Kim Wert, who had two each. Brooke Wilmes and Hatti Moore also had very productive days at the plate (and in the field), but I’ll talk about them more later.

What Didn’t

  • It was very, very, VERY lucky the Tiger pitching and defense was working, because tallying 10 hits and batting .370 on the day while only scoring three runs? YIKES. The Tigers left an unbelievable 9 runners on base. I’ve said it a bunch, but the Tigers MUST improve upon this.

From Coach:

“We just have to look for better pitches in those situations (with runners on) and not press. We put the bat on the ball, but we weren’t hitting it hard… We were jamming ourself rather than swinging free and trusting ourselves in those situations.”

“She (Dickerson) threw great. She kept us off balance. She worked both sides of the plate that really got us on our front foot. So I’ve got to tip my hat to Missouri State and how they attacked us.”

Karen’s Players of the Game

  • Brooke “Doubles Machine” Wilmes was 3-for-4 on the day with two doubles, a single, an RBI, and a run scored. She also dazzled in the field. When asked about her offensive onslaught, she said knowing Steffany Dickerson’s tendencies to get ahead of hitters and nibble the corners, she wanted to attack early.
  • Hatti “I’m Back” Moore showed that she’s hitting her stride and back to her old self at the right time with two hard-hit singles into the outfield. She also was a master behind the plate, key in the Krings’ pitch-calling and outstanding performance.
  • Laurin “Strikeout” Krings WHAT.A.GAME. This was Krings’ fourth double-eight strikeout game of the season and her 15th win on the year. This was also her 12th complete game, and she hit a career 174th strikeout — remember, she’s a SOPHOMORE — which has only been bested by ICON, Chelsea Thomas.

What Coach Had to Say:

On the pressure:

“There’s so many emotions involved. It’s the first game. There’s a great crowd, and you just want to do well. There’s a lot of internal pressure,” Coach said. “When you get that first win, you can take a sigh of relief and go, ‘Okay, we got it.’ And then you can relax a little bit.

On the offense:

“Our offense has to score runs,” she said. “They’re gonna continue to produce and we have to give them an opportunity to score runs. And that comes from the the pitching making great pitches and the defense making plays to give time for our offense to score runs.

Here’s a link to full the press conference, courtesy of ABC17 Sports Director, Nathalie Jones.

Fun Fact

In the aftermath of Mizzou’s Game One victory, it was announced that in the Women’s Professional Fastpitch Inaugural College Draft, the USSSA Pride selected Casidy Chaumont as their final pick of the draft. WOW. This league features former JMU superstar Odicci Alexander (you should know that name), and from 2013-16 featured another name you should know, one Chelsea Thomas. Other notable alums? LEGEND Cat Osterman (WOW) and Arizona head coach, Caitlin Lowe.

CONGRATS, CASIDY!! This is truly an unbelievable opportunity.

Up Next

The no. 15 Tigers will take on the winner of Game 2 in the Columbia Regional. They’ll either face historically excellent Arizona or rematch for round 3 of Braggin Rights and face Illinois. The game will kick off at 1:30pm.

“You can feel a sigh relief to focus on tomorrow,” Anderson said. “In front of an amazing crowd, you want to do well for everyone.”

UPDATE:

The Tigers will face the Arizona Wildcats.


LFG!

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.