The Missouri Tigers (6-2) showcased their talent and aggressiveness on the opening day of the Panther Invitational in Miami. Missouri began their day with a 9AM tip against the Butler Bulldogs, and run-ruled them in just 5 innings on an offensive onslaught that included three dingers, a triple, and two doubles, among other offensive brilliance.
While I was just sitting down with my overpriced Starbucks coffee, the Tigers were raring to go and got right after it from the jump in this one, as Jenna Laird led off with a triple and was brought home on a Julia Crenshaw double. Riley Frizell singled, scoring Julia, before Kara Daly knocked in a 2-run bomb to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead. Freshman Katie Chester, starring in the DP role just like Head Coach Larissa Anderson told us she would (thanks for that heads up, Coach), followed up Daly’s shot with a solo one of her own, and Missouri had scored 5 runs on 5 hits before Butler even came to bat.
After a nothingburger for Butler, LF Maddie Snider, who got the start in place of Chantice Phillips, walked and swiped 2B and then advanced to 3B on a Laird groundout. Honnold walked — this was the theme of the day for her, as we’ll come to find out — and then also swiped 2B. Then this...
https://t.co/XXRlXH8OiZ.Crenshaw. Back on her bullshit. My girl HOMERS TO LEFT AND IT'S 8-0.— Karen S (@karensteger) February 17, 2023
Gammon is removed from the game and Dyer comes in. pic.twitter.com/pxkKUKdvUO
Crenshaw blasts a 3-run shot and it’s suddenly 8-0 Mizzou. And they weren’t done! After two more walks and a single, the Tigers had the bases loaded for Megan Moll, whose double down the LF line put Mizzou up 11-0 with only a singular Tiger left on base. It wasn’t until the 3rd inning that Mizzou finally went down in order, and meanwhile Jordan Weber was dealing in the circle, with three strikeouts and a no-no through 3 innings of work.
In the top of the fourth, Kelsee Mortimer got in on the party with a single, which was followed by 2 walks to load the bases for a Maddie Snider two-run single made it 13-0. But they weren’t done. Laird’s 2-run single to CF made it 15-0, which also took Weber out of the game in favor of Megan Schumacher.
Schuey allowed Butler’s first baserunners of the game on a pair of singles in the 4th, but the runners were stranded. The Tigers got one aboard in the 5th on a Crenshaw single, but a double play ended the inning, and Jayci Kruse came in to relieve Schumacher. Kruse, the seldom-used Missouri pitcher from a year ago, struggled a bit, but ultimately didn’t allow a run to cross the plate and the Tigers were able to collectively preserve the shutout, 15-0 in 5 innings.
Trio of Home Runs in the Magic City to open our Friday. #OwnIt #MIZ pic.twitter.com/zQj7jjnurZ— Mizzou Softball (@MizzouSoftball) February 17, 2023
Cause for Concern: Absolutely nothing. 10/10 NO NOTES.
Interesting Fun Fact: Even not seeing actual video evidence of this game — it was only available via live stats — I could feel the excitement through my screen. It was so exciting, y’all. Also, put the damn games on ESPN+. How hard is that?!?
The Tigers’ second game of the day against the Pitt Panthers was delayed for several hours after a storm cell came through Magic City, delaying the game before them several hours. With freshman hurler Cierra Harrison on the mound facing off against Dani Drogemuller, Missouri faced a bit more pressure in this one, finding themselves coming from slightly behind early on. Pitt led off in this one, showcasing their penchant for extra base hits, as they laced two doubles off CC to take a 1-0 lead early on. The Tigers fought back though in the bottom of the inning, as Jenna Laird led off with a single, followed by an Alex Honnold walk — her first of an absolutely absurd FOUR on the night — before a Julia Crenshaw RBI groundout tied up the game, 1-1.
In the second, another double by Pitt got a runner aboard, and a single and wild pitch plated another run, giving the Panthers a 2-1 advantage. The Tigers weren’t able to tack on any additional runs in the bottom of the inning, but neither were the Panthers in the 3rd. In the bottom of the third, Mizzou struck again as Laird singled then swiped 2B. After Honnold walked again and Crenshaw’s sac bunt advanced the runner, Riley Frizell walked to load the bases for Daly, who walked home a run to tie the game. Chester singled to left center to score Honnold, and the Tigers took the lead 3-2.
Laurin Krings took over for Harrison in the 4th, and while she allowed two on via walk, they were left on base. The Tigers were able to add to their score in the bottom of the inning after Snider led off with a well-placed bunt. A double by Laird that extended into a triple that extended into an error-induced hybrid inside-the-park homerun (?!?) allowed her to score as well as Snider, making it 5-2 Missouri. I clearly don’t know the scoring on that, but I’m calling it like I see it, and a hybrid homerun by error it is.
Jenna made it look easy #NCAASoftball x @MizzouSoftball pic.twitter.com/wK5Kjz7yrj— NCAA Softball (@NCAASoftball) February 18, 2023
While the Tigers wouldn’t score any other runs in the game, they continued to work the counts and tally additional walks. Pitt (lightly) threatened on several occasions but were ultimately unable to make anything happen. Freshman lefty Taylor Pannell came in with one out in the 7th to save the game, and the Tigers got the W, 5-2.
H2M.— Mizzou Softball (@MizzouSoftball) February 18, 2023
Hail to #Mizzou. #OwnIt #MIZ pic.twitter.com/aAShnqSm3m
Cause for concern: Cierra Harrison, who I KNOW will be a star, continued to allow hard contact, giving up multiple doubles in this game. Additionally, I’d like to see more production from the latter half of the order. The Tigers, aside from Snider, weren’t able to get much from the bottom of the order, particularly Lenger and Gallagher.
Interesting fun fact: As with UCF, Mizzou was actually out-hit in this one, 8-5, but the story of Game 2 was the walks. SO MANY WALKS which gave Tiger runners free passes. Even if the Tigers aren’t getting on base with hits, they are getting aboard in other ways, and their plate discipline — especially that of Alex Honnold and Kara Daly — is to be commended.
UP NEXT: Mizzou takes on the event host FIU at 11:30am. There’s a chance the game might be streaming on C-USA’s website, but we’ll see. After that, the round robin-style tourney will be in effect. I’m guessing Mizzou has cemented itself as the 1-seed at this point, meaning they’ll play again at 4:30pm (I’ll miss that as Mizzou Hoops takes precedence), and then EARLY Sunday morning at 8:30am (ew) against one of the other three teams.