WHEW. That was an exciting one. On a lovely, warm Wednesday evening in Orlando, our no. 23/25/26 (I don’t know what poll to use, lol) Missouri Tigers, off to a 3-2 start this season, faced their first road opponent of the season, no. 18/19/20 Central Florida, who’s coming off a 3-1 opening weekend. At stake, a victory over a ranked team, which is always good for the ol’ resume.
In the circle for Mizzou was Laurin “Specs” Krings, who we last saw kicking some ass and taking some Northwestern names on Saturday, facing off against the Knights’ Kaitlyn Felton, this week’s AAC Pitcher of the Week. I kinda expected a pitcher’s duel, but what we got was an offensive fire fest. A battle of the bats, if you will. Did they break some offensive field record?
Jada Cody got the Knights out on top early, smashing a solo home run to CF on a pitch Krings left over the heart of the plate in the bottom of the first, but Missouri answered in the top of the second off of a deeeeeeep Kara Daly double (great to see her make some hard contact). She came around to score after wild pitch got her to third, and a Katie Chester sacrifice brought her in to tie the game 1-1. UCF scored again in the bottom half after a single, a passed ball, and a groundout brought in Chloe Evans and made it 2-1 Knights.
In the third, Mizzou clearly decided, “to hell with this one-run crap, let’s do some DAMAGE” and let loose a flurry of offense. After Megan Moll walked and advanced on a passed ball (lot of those this game), back-to-back doubles by Laird and Honnold brought in two runs and knocked Felton right out of the game. She was replaced in the circle by Miles, who immediately gave up a two-run BLAST to Julia Crenshaw and was promptly yanked from the game in favor of Cochran. Back-to-back-to-back singles by Riley Frizell, Daly, and Chester brought in another run, and it was suddenly it was 6-2 Tigers. The Knights, of course, had something to say about this, and when they got a chance to bat, and they added a run on an RBI groundout.
JULIA!!!— Mizzou Softball (@MizzouSoftball) February 16, 2023
Make that ✌️ homers for @crenshaw_julia on our Florida ☀️ trip.#OwnIt #MIZ pic.twitter.com/rigMl6jqVK
In the fourth, the Tigers added to their 6-3 lead after Crenshaw — she was so damn good on Wednesday — doubled in Honnold, who was on 2B after a walk and subsequent steal. But in the bottom of the inning, you guessed it! UCF got a run back, making it 7-4, after a solo shot by Sarah Willis. In the fifth, Mizzou had another monster inning, this time off of Jewell. After a Kelsee Mortimer walk, Moll reached on an error and Laird singled up the middle, bringing home Kaylee Lenger (PR’ing for Mortimer) and making it 8-4. And then... Alex Honnold came up to bat and demolished a three-run shot to left, making it 11-4.
.@alex_honnold22 drills a three-run shot to left!!! #Mizzou 11, UCF 4 | M5 | #OwnIt #MIZ pic.twitter.com/VKpTjwHof4— Mizzou Softball (@MizzouSoftball) February 16, 2023
Did the Knights give up, though? Of course not, and they quickly made it 11-5 on a two-run shot from Shannon Doherty (no relation to the 90210 actor) off of relief pitcher, Cierra Harrison. For the remainder of the game, the Tigers went down in order as Jewell found her comfort zone in the circle. The Knights, however, continued to tack on runs and make Tiger fans sweat a little bit, after back-to-back innings of leadoff homers by Willis — her second of the day — made it 11-6, and Evans made it 11-7. Freshman lefty Taylor Pannell came in for the save after the Evans homer, and the Tigers hung on for the exciting win.
The Tigers’ pitching wasn’t too great in this one, as Krings allowed 7 hits and 4 runs (3 earned), to go with a walk and three strikeouts in her 4 IP. Harrison, in her 2 IP, allowed 5 hits and 4 runs (all earned), to go with a walk and three strikeouts. CC did, however, get three HUGE strikeouts to end the 6th inning after giving up the aforementioned HR, as well as a single. Took big time guts to not allow them to get anything else going. Pannell, as previously mentioned, came in and earned her first career save to close out the win.
UCF actually out-hit Missouri in this one, but the Tigers’ had better situational hitting.
MIZ .323 BA (10-31) vs UCF .375 (12-32). With two outs, MIZ .333 (3-9) vs UCF .250 (2-8). With runners on, MIZ .500 (8-16) vs UCF .133 (2-15)
Jenna Laird: 2-4, 2 R, 2 H, 2 RBI, 1 2B,
Alex Honnold: 2-2, 3 R, 2 H, 4 RBI, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 SB
Julia Crenshaw: 2-4, 1 R, 2 H, 3 RBI, 1 2B, 1 HR
Kara Daly: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B
Katie Chester: 1-4, 2 RBI
Riley Frizell: 1-3, 1 H, 1 HBP
TIGERS' kNIGHT— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) February 16, 2023
#23 @MizzouSoftball becomes the latest SEC squad to down #20 UCF in Orlando!#SECSB pic.twitter.com/0wMdrNo4HK
UP NEXT: The Tigers (4-2) will head to South Beach to wrap up their Florida trip at the Panther Invitational, taking place on FIU’s campus. The preview will be up Friday AM, and first pitch against Butler is set for 9AM.