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With series win out of reach, Missouri tries to salvage one against no. 21 Auburn

Anemic offense kept the Tigers at bay in Game 1, and an unfortunate error heartbreakingly did them in in Game 2. Let’s see what the Tigers can do in Game 3, shall we?

Missouri shortstop Jenna Laird practices before Mizzou’s series with Auburn gets started, March 24, 2023
@MizzouSoftball, twitter

As the Missouri Tigers (20-13, RV) get set to wrap up their three-game set with the #21 Auburn Tigers (23-9), let’s check in on how the series has gone so far.

Game One

Aside from two blips on the radar, Jordan Weber pitched very well in this one, allowing only 4 hits to go with a single walk and 7 strikeouts. Problem is, and the problem continually seems to be when Jo is on the mound, is r-u-n s-u-p-p-o-r-t. As in, there is none. Zero. Zilch. So no matter how well she’s pitching, if her teammates can’t provide her with any sort of offense, it makes it tough to win a game.

The Tigers of the blue & orange variety got on the board in the first inning after a walk and two-run homer made it 2-0, and that was all they’d need to get this W. For insurance, they added another 2-run shot in the bottom of the 5th but honestly, it wasn’t necessary. Maddie Penta (11-4, 1.05 ERA) was phenomenal in this one, mowing down Mizzou batters left and right to tie a career-high 17 strikeouts. To show just how unhittable she was, she even got the rarely-striking-out duo of Jenna Laird and Alex Honnold to fall prey three times apiece. Kara Daly, Chantice Phillips, Katie Chester, and Megan Moll also struck out two times each, and actually, upon looking at the stats, not a single Tiger didn’t end up striking out at least once. Let that settle in, friends.

Baserunner-wise, it was dismal. Phillips got aboard with an infield bloop single in the 2nd and then swiped 2B, but she was stranded. Daly walked in the 4th and Julia Crenshaw led off with a stand-up double in the 7th, but that was it. I wrapped up the Missouri offense in three short sentences. Yikes.

Overall hitting stats: 2 H | 1 2B | 1 BB | 17 SO | 3 LOB | 1 SB | .087 BA

Overall pitching stats (Weber): 4 H | 4 ER | 1 BB | 7 SO | 2 HR | 87 pitches | .183 OppBA

Game Two

Mizzou’s offense was MUCH better in the second game of the doubleheader, but they were unable to capitalize on hardly any of their many chances to break this thing wide open. In the 1st, Alex Honnold got Mizzou started off on the right foot, working a 9-pitch AB off Auburn pitcher Shelby Lowe to get on base with an off-the-wall double to center. Julia Crenshaw followed with a hit by pitch — she’s been hit an alarming number of times this season — and the runners advanced on a Kara Daly groundout to third. However, Chantice Phillips’ infield popup ended the inning, and the threat was minimized.

Laurin Krings, much like Jordan Weber in the first game of the doubleheader, started off a bit iffy before settling in, walking the first two batters before a single to center brought in Auburn’s first run. Specs ended the inning with two popups and was largely in control after that.

In the 2nd, Mizzou tied things up after South Carolina transfer Maddie Gallagher led off with a double and a single by Katie Chester put runners at the corners for Riley Frizell, whose sac fly brought home Gallagher. Jenna Laird’s single to center took Lowe right out of the game in favor of Annabelle Widra, who intentionally walked Honnold to load the bases. Unfortunately, what happened next would become a pattern for Mizzou in this game, as Crenshaw grounded out, ending the inning, and putting Mizzou’s LOB tally to 5.

Missouri’s defense was the show in the bottom of the inning, as Daly grabbed the lead runner on a fielder's choice, and then a nifty double play ended the inning rapidly.

The black and gold Tigers got yet another chance to do some damage in the 3rd when Phillips’ double to the right side got a runner on, but two groundouts ended the inning (LOB tally: 6). In the 4th it was much of the same, as Texas Tech transfer Payton Jackson singled to center, and then advanced to 2B on a Laird ground out. Honnold was then intentionally walked for the second time in a row to put two on, but Crenshaw flied out (LOB tally: 8).

Things got dicey for Mizzou in the bottom of the inning as Krings hit a batter and a single to right put two runners on with no outs. After a strikeout, a single loaded the bases, but Specs was able to get out of the jam with a strikeout to end the inning. I might have yelled at my tv when that happened.

Mizzou got a runner aboard via HBP in the 5th, adding to the left on base tally (now at 9), and in the 7th, Daly hit an infield single to make it 10 (yech). It wasn’t until the bottom of the 7th that the tie was broken up, and I had really, really thought the game up to this point was headed to extras. How silly I was, in retrospect. After back-to-back singles got runners on, catastrophe struck. With one out, Nelia Peralta hit what was ultimately a game-winning FC, as Gallagher, after making the play at 2B, was thrown off-balance by Aspyn Godwin, who slid into the base and overthrew Chester at 1B by... um... a lot, allowing pinch-runner Rose Roach to score on a walk-off. Devastating.

Biggest takeaways: So many baserunners stranded here. When the (Auburn) Tigers needed it, they were able to get the outs, taking all the momentum away from our Tigers. It was exhausting. That, and the Tigers HAVE to figure out how to close out close games. This is three of four now that they’ve lost by one run at the end of the game.

Noteworthy Stats:

  • Alex Honnold: 1-2 with a double and 2 intentional walks
  • Chantice Phillips: 1-4 with a double
  • Maddie Gallagher: 1-2 with a run scored, a double, and a HBP

Overall Hitting Stats: 1 R | 7 H | 1 RBI | 3 2B | 2 BB | 1 SO | 2 HBP | 1 SAC | 10 LOB | .259 BA

Overall Pitching Stats (Krings): 7 H | 2 R | 1 ER | 2 BB | 5 SO | 96 pitches | .280 OppBA

Awesome Plays:

I couldn’t really figure out a way to include this in the flow of the recap, but you need to watch this awesomeness.

Game Three Preview

WHEN: Monday, March 27 at 6pm CT

HOW TO WATCH: SEC Network | Stats:

I would have to assume, especially after an extra day of rest, that Mizzou will be facing Maddie Penta again, who now has ridiculous numbers (0.98 ERA, 0.69 WHIP) after that series-opener display. Joy. Per, she leads the SEC in strikeout-to-walk ratio (14.78) and also has the fewest walks allowed per 7IP (0.73). Meaning, Mizzou is going to have to get to her with their bats. Hopefully, the staff will have had some time to look at the tape and see how the team can adjust to the righty’s devastating repertoire.

The Tigers (ours) will need to keep an eye on Lindsey Garcia (.312, 1.080 OPS, 24 H, 22 R, 26 RBI), who was responsible for the 2-run shot in the opener, Nelia Peralta (.361, 1.145, 26 R, 30 H, 10 XBH), and Makayla Packer. While Packer was only 1-5, she is a threat at the plate, hitting .400 for the season with a .960 OPS, 18 H and 14 R in 45 AB.

Also watch for bench players Aubrie Lisenby and Carlee McCondichie had multiple hits in the doubleheader. Lisenby was 2-2 with a home run in the opener, while McCondichie had a pair of hits.