After suffering through excessive delays and an extra-inning enhanced weekend series against fellow SEC cellar dweller Mississippi (read my recap here), the Tigers (25-20, 4-14 SEC) were in search of a victory. Who better than against those fake birds from that school to the west? With an undefeated midweek record on the line, how did they fare? Let’s check it out. But first, a salute to the military. Thank you for your service.
In front of a “Beat KU” tshirt-clad crowd of about 2300, Missouri starter Jordan Weber worked a 1-2-3 inning to kick things off in the field for Mizzou, which featured a lovely foul ball grab by, I think, Kara Daly’s mom? A+ effort, Kristin! In the bottom of the inning, Jenna Laird got things started with a hit by pitch before Alex Honnold crushed a ball to LF to give the Tigers an early 2-0 lead and her tenth HR of the season. Kara Daly and Payton Jackson both struck out looking — truly unfortunate considering both worked long ABs to get essentially nothing out of it — before Julia Crenshaw and Maddie Gallagher’s back-to-back singles brought in another run, making it 3-0 good gals.
After a 1-2-3 inning for both teams in the 2nd, the homer bug —a real nasty annoyance—once again hit Weber in the 3rd as she allowed a 2-out solo shot to 9-hole hitter Haleigh Harper, her first HR of the season, to make it 3-1 before a groundout eventually ended the inning. Of the homerun, Coach Anderson said, “It was windblown. It was a jam shot and it was routine and the win just carried it, and that’s gonna happen because she (Weber) throws the ball up in the zone.”
The Tigers went down 1-2-3 again in the bottom of the 3rd with Daly striking out for the second time (don’t worry, her revenge AB is coming), while the Jayhawks were unable to bring home cleanup hitter Lyric Moore, who had gotten on with a stand-up double down the LF line and got as far as 3B. In the home half of the 4th, it was much of the same for the Tigers, as they again went down 1-2-3 AGAIN (I could just copy and paste at this point, huh?), but Weber pulled herself back together with her own 1-2-3 inning to go with her third strikeout in the top of the 5th.
In the bottom of the 5th, life re-emerged, albeit temporarily, for one Tiger bat as Riley Frizell led off with a single down the middle, the first Missouri hit since the bottom of the 1st. Sadly, a flyout to CF and an inning-ending DP ended the Tigers’ pretty timid threat.
Unfortunately, the kansas bats erupted in the 6th for three singles (with only a single out sandwiched in between), which brought in another kU run, making it 3-2 and taking Weber out of the game in favor of ace Laurin Krings. Specs took over with runners on 2B & 3B, and struck out her first batter before a ball was hit directly at Laird—a surefire third out—but she couldn’t come up with it, which knotted the score at 3-3. A strikeout for Krings, no. 2 of the inning, brought it to a close, and the Tigers would need some R-U-N-S to end this thing in regulation.
When I asked Coach Anderson in the postgame about Jordan’s overall performance, she said, “I thought she looked better today than she had looked in her last two outings. She was throwing both sides of the plate and threw a couple changeups. She just didn’t get a lot of swings and misses; kansas handles the ball up in the zone extremely well.”
In the bottom half of the 6th, HALLELUJAH. Daly, clearly exacting revenge for the earlier Ks, smacked a stand-up double. And then this:
B6 (cont'd): PJ grounds out, but Daly advances, and is 60ft from taking the lead.— Karen S (@karensteger) April 20, 2023
AND THEY DO.
Julia.F'ing.Crenshaw, ladies and gentlemen, legs out a stand-up triple, giving the Tigers the lead 4-3. Replay says it's FAIR, BABYYYYYYYYYYY.
On Crenshaw’s bat, which has been on fire the past few games, Coach said, “What I like about Crenshaw is she’s been much more aggressive on every single pitch. Early on in the season, she was way too selective and she took a lot of hittable pitches. Now she’s jumping all over the first good hittable pitch.”
In the postgame, Crenshaw reiterated this same thing, saying she’s been seeing the ball very well. “Luckily, they’ve been leaving some balls over the plate and I’ve been able to get a barrel on it.” In case you’ve forgotten Cranny is on a bit of a heater, with two triples and a home run in the last few games.
With Krings back out to start the 7th, the Tigers needed just three lil’ outs.
Side Note: I feel I should mention at this point that Mizzou Softball has conditioned me at this point to break out into hives every 7th inning. I’m kidding, but seriously, my anxiety goes up these days when a game’s on the line.
An unfortunate error by Daly, very similar to the error by Laird earlier, put a runner on before Anderson brought in Taylor Pannell with one away to shut it down. The left-handed freshie immediately struck out Espy before making the final out of the game as Limbaugh hit it right back at her to make the play at first. For, as Coach Anderson said, “not the most agile, most athletic pitcher out there,” it was great to see that defense from TP.
When asked about Pannell coming in to save the game, Coach was effusive with her praise. “Taylor is going to be so good. She’s really, really special and coming out of the dugout, the conversation was, let’s make sure Taylor is ready because we’ve got two lefties at the top of the lineup. So she was going in immediately regardless of what the situation was.”
Sweet, sweet victory.
Anderson said it should be worth two wins because it’s kU and it goes much deeper than just a softball game, and I agree. “We needed that,” she shared. “We need to feel that feeling of the tie ballgame and coming from behind because that’s something that we really have struggled with. We’ve given up a lot of games late in the 7th inning, so for us to be able to capitalize and score late, that’s something we can use to keep that momentum going forward.”
Laurin Krings added, “I think we just wanted it so bad. Obviously our last series (Ole Miss), we didn’t get that one, and we really, really, really, wanted that one so I think we came out here and just wanted it.”
Job well done, Tigers.
(it’s late so you get a screenshot)
Mizzou hit .261 overall, including .375 with 2 outs, .500 with runners in scoring position, and .286 from leadoff. Kansas, for their part, hits .250, including .200 with 2 outs, and .286 with runners in scoring position. Their lead off batters only hit .143 though.
On to the next! Up next, Missouri welcomes North Texas to town. I’ll have more in Friday’s links about the opponent.