The Missouri Tigers’ regular season series finale kicked off on Friday night in Tuscaloosa, Ala. against the no. 6/8 Alabama Crimson Tide. Missouri, winners of their last eight, came in as hot as can be, to face off against a Bama team that’s been struggling as of late. Coming off a bye weekend, they had lost 3 of their last 4, including two losses at Texas A&M and a loss at Western Kentucky.
Miss the preview? Read it here.
GAME ONE: Mizzou 3, Alabama 2 | 8 innings
This was The Jordan Game. Weber was masterful in this one, matching a career high 8 innings in complete game effort where she only allowed two runs (on two home runs), walked one, and struck out 7.
Facing All-American Montana Fouts, I wasn’t expecting the Tigers to be able to do much of anything. Regardless of whether or not Fouts has shown herself to be more of a mortal these days, she has all these accolades and awards for a reason. She really is that good. In her own complete game effort, she struck out 14 (!) Tigers, but also was peppered with 7 hits and 4 walks. The walks, however, would be her undoing, and ultimately what gave her the loss.
How did we get here? Let’s recap.
I think perhaps armed with the knowledge that the Crimson Tide wins almost all their games when striking first, the Tigers came out to PLAY in this one. In the first inning, Brooke Wilmes reached on an single to short before Kim Wert drove a pitch out to deep center to give Missouri the lead 2-0. A lead, mind you, that they never actually gave up.
Alabama answered in the bottom of the first with a solo shot, making it 2-1, but Jordan Weber was cooking from there, retiring the next 11 batters before she allowed another solo shot in the bottom of the fourth to tie things up, 2-2. In the fifth, the Tide threatened with a leadoff double, but Jo was able to work out of the jam and strike out the last two batters of the inning to keep the score knotted.
As for the Tigers, after the initial two runs, they had a hard time getting anything going against Fouts. Daly hit a single in the second and Honnold led off with a single in the fifth, but it wasn’t until the sixth that Mizzou even got two runners on. Wilmes singled (she was great Friday) and Wert was intentionally walked, but the Tigers weren’t able to get either across.
Alabama wasn’t much better, as they didn’t get two runners aboard until the fifth, when a leadoff double and a walk gave them a chance… that they couldn’t capitalize on. And in the seventh, a leadoff single and a sac bunt by Alabama got a runner in scoring position, but two pop ups ended the thread and to extras we went.
In the eighth, the Tigers GOT.IT.DONE. After a Moore popup, Jenna Laird and Brooke Wilmes got on base with back-to-back singles, and a wild pitch moved them over to second and third. After Casidy Chaumont was unable to move the runners — she’s been struggling recently — Kim Wert was intentionally walked (again) to load the bases. I will say, it seemed like a pretty good decision by Alabama at the time; you don’t want to face Kim Wert, and KB was hitless in the game up to this point. But Fouts - very unintentionally, I should add - walked Bailey and gave the Tigers the lead, 3-2. With the bases still loaded, Alex Honnold hit a fly to deep left center, but it was caught on the warning track, ending the inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, once again holding a lead, it was up to Jo to bring it home, and she did. Facing the top of the order, she retired the first two batters before Tennessee transfer Ally Shipman got aboard on an error by Kara Daly, but Weber sealed the victory with a ground out to second to close it out.
Missouri Offense: 3 R | 7 H | 3 RBI | 4 BB | 14 K | 6 LOB
Weber’s stats: 8 IP | 5 H | 2 ER | 1 BB | 7 SO | 31 BF | 115 pitches
Kentucky Offense: 2 R | 5 H | 2 RBI | 1 BB | 7 K | 5 LOB
Fouts’ stats: 8IP | 7 H | 3 ER | 4 BB | 14 SO | 31 BF | 140 pitches (good god)
What Went Well
- The Tigers got to Montana Fouts for seven hits, including one each by Laird, Wert, Honnold, and Daly. Brooke Wilmes was especially successful, with three hits.
- Jenna Laird scored the game-winning run after getting on base with a single in the eighth. She also had a walk, and extended her hitting streak to seven games.
- Jordan Weber went toe-to-toe with the best of the best, and was able to work out of several jams to get a win for their team.
- Holy strikeouts. I mean, it’s not altogether unexpected in a game against certified strikeout queen, Montana Fouts, but she had 14, including two by Laird, Honnold, Raabe, and Moore, and three by Chaumont.
- Kara Daly had what could have been a pretty costly error in the bottom of the 8th, but ultimately Weber was able to work around it and secure the W.
- The Tigers stranded six, and hit only .125 from leadoff (Bama hit .375) and only .182 with runners on base. They were unable to string together much of anything.
Karen’s Players of the Game
- Jordan Weber: I don’t even know what else to say that hasn’t already been said. Jo was on fire on Friday, and moved to 13-5 on the season.
- Brooke Wilmes was 3-for-4 and extended her hitting streak to 11 games.
- Kim “Sponsor me, Lucky Charms” Wert: KW’s two-run shot in the top of the first got the Tigers on the board early, and was the 60th of her collegiate career (and 55th at Mizzou). With this home run, she also surpassed 50 RBI on the season for the first time in her career.
GAME TWO: Mizzou 1, Alabama 3
I was worried that the extreme number of runners left on base would come back to bite the Tigers in the ass, and turns out I was right. I hate that I was right. Though Mizzou was ultimately able to take down Montana Fouts on Friday night, when she came into the game after the Tigers couldn’t get any additional runs off Bama starter Alex Salter, I had to wonder if they’d be able to get to her two days in a row. They did not…
Here’s how we got there.
Mizzou jumped out first in this game as well, and with two outs, Kendyll Bailey rocketed a 2-2 pitch over the center field wall to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Alabama worked Laurin Krings hard in the first, making her throw 38 pitches to get out of the inning. She had trouble controlling her pitches early and was behind in most of her counts. The Tide was ultimately able to get on the board after an RBI double by Dowling to right center scored Shipman, tying the game 1-1.
What followed for the Tigers were a lot of missed chances. In the second, back-to-back singles from Kara Daly and Emma Raabe got things started, but a fly out ended the inning. In the third, Jenna Laird singled and Brooke Wilmes doubled to put runners in scoring position. Wert was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out but two strikeouts ended the inning.
In the fourth, Missouri got another runner into scoring position after a Kara Daly single and a sac bunt by Emma Raabe got her to second and Hatti Moore reached on a fielding error. Again though, they couldn’t bring anyone home after a foul out and ground out ended he inning. In the fifth, I swore the Tigers were finally going to make something happen, as Kim Wert doubled down the left field line with one out before being replaced by Kendal Cook. Alex Honnold reached on a fielders choice and Cook was called safe at third due to interference. At this point, Alabama coach Patrick Murphy removed his starting pitcher from the game, and brought in… Montana Fouts. [cue the doomsday music]
With the statuesque Fouts on the mound, Casidy Chaumont made contact and hit a ground ball to third, but the throw home took Cook out at the plate. On a wild pitch, both Honnold and CC were able to advance on the base paths, and Kara Daly was hit by a pitch to load the bases. As we all waited with bated breath, Raabe struck out.
In the bottom of the fifth, Alabama threatened again after back-to-back-to-back bunts resulted in runners on first and third after Krings misplayed one of the bunts and overthrew the second baseman. But despite the error, Specs was able to keep the Tide at bay (hehe) with a strikeout and a great play by KB to get a runner out at the plate after Alabama attempted to score on a steal attempt at second. It was reviewed, and the call was upheld.
Hatti Moore led off with a first pitch double in the sixth, but — you guessed it! — the Tigers couldn’t bring her home as two strikeouts and a flyout retired the side. [insert another dramatic sigh]
Sadly, in the bottom of the sixth, Specs’ luck ran out, as Shipman got aboard with a one-out double. Dowling walked before a groundout moved runners to second and third with two outs. A two-run RBI shot went over Laird’s glove to make it 3-1, and while Wert walked to lead off the seventh, the Tigers went down quietly into the afternoon on three strikeouts to end the game.
Missouri Offense: 1 R | 8 H | 1 RBI | 3 2B | 1 HR | 2 BB | 9 K | | 12 LOB
Krings’ stats: 6 IP | 5 H | 3 ER | 2 BB | 5 SO | 2 2B | 25 BF | 101 pitches | LOSS
Alabama Offense: 3 R | 5 H | 3 RBI | 2 2B | 2 BB | 5 K | 3 LOB
Salter’s stats: 4.1 IP | 7 H | 1 ER | 1 BB | 3 SO | 1 HR | 2 2B | 23 BF | 78 pitches
Fouts’ stats: 2.2 IP | 1 H | 1 2B | 1 BB | 6 SO | 1 WP | 1 HBP | 11 BF | 44 pitches | WIN
What Went Well
- The Tigers hit Alabama pretty hard on Saturday, though they had nothing to really show for it. The four extra base hits were nice to see, a day after only amassing one. MU hits .267 overall vs. the Tide’s .238. Both teams hit well with two outs — MU hit .300, but UA was better (.375).
- 7 of Mizzou’s 9 players recorded a hit on Saturday, including the top four hitters in the Tigers’ lineup, Daly, Raabe, and Moore. Furthermore, the Tigers batted .500 from leadoff on Saturday (vs .167 for Alabama).
- Brooke Wilmes’ double in the third put her atop the Mizzou record board with the most doubles in school history (57). She also extended her hitting streak to 12 games.
- Jenna Laird extended her hitting streak to eight games with her single in the third.
- The Tigers left - frankly - an unacceptable number of runners on base, and I can come up with no feasible reason why this shouldn’t have been another win. The biggest culprits? Wilmes and Moore stranded two, while both Chaumont and Raabe each stranded three. The Tigers hit .111 with runners on (Alabama hit .250).
- Krings had trouble containing Tennessee transfer Ally Shipman, who had two hits on the day, including a double, and Bailey Dowling continued to have the Tiger pitching figured out. She had a double and two walks in Game Two.
- Chaumont’s rough stretch continued, as she’s struck out 6 times in the past two games. At least this game she got on base, on that fielders choice that resulted in Kendal Cook’s out at home plate. I don’t want to pile on, because she is one of my favorite Tigers — yes, I know I shouldn’t have favorites — but yikes… The Tigers need her to get it together fast.
- Four of the Tigers’ 9 strikeouts were looking. That’s… unseemly.
Karen’s Players of the Game
- Kara Daly was 2-for-3 for a pair of singles and a hit by pitch. I have been impressed by the mid-MO product’s performance the last couple weeks, and I was glad to see her have some success.
- Kendyll Bailey smacked her 11th homer of the season - a career high - and was responsible for the Tigers’ only run.
- Kim “Intentional Walk” Wert was 1-for-2 on Saturday with a stand-up double and two intentional walks (her third in two games).
- Lauren Krings: Yeah, she took the loss, but she was largely effective. After a 38 pitch first inning, Specs did good work, putting together a quality outing, and was mostly failed by her team’s inability to string together offense. She only allowed two walks and five hits, to go along with five strikeouts.
Tune in to ESPNU for today’s regular season finale at 1pm. I’d expect to see Alabama’s ace, Montana Fouts, back on the mound, taking on Jordan Weber.