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KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKrings puts on a show

Too bad the umpire shenanigans threatened to put a stain on what really was a pitching masterclass

Laurin Krings fields a bunt in the first inning of Game 1 vs North Texas (April 21, 2023)
@MizzouSoftball, twitter


She was the star of the show, the belle of the ball, the cat’s pajamas — ALL the things. She killed it y’all. KILLED IT. An absolute pitching masterclass. The umpires in this game tried to make it about them (more on that in a bit), but nothing could dull Specs’ sparkle.

Let’s recap.

In a rare non-con series in the midst of SEC play, the Missouri Tigers (26-20, 4-14 SEC) welcomed in the University of North Texas Mean Green (26-17, 11-7 CUSA) for game one of a three-game set on an increasingly chilly Friday evening. In the circle for North Texas, Ashley Peters (10-7, 1.89 ERA in 100 IP), who had 11 strikeouts in a complete game effort over conference foe, UNC-Charlotte, over the weekend. In the circle for Mizzou, as you’ve already read, was Laurin “Specs” Krings, who had 9 K in a combined 6 23 innings in Sunday’s game, and notched her 400th career strikeout on Monday night in the Ole Miss series finale. Going into this game, Specs sat just three strikeouts away from her third consecutive 100 K season. I think she accomplished that.

From the very first inning on, it was clear to the crowd on hand that Krings was working with her entire arsenal, notching two strikeouts in the first to go with a nifty play on a bunt that got some air under it, and then striking out the side in the second inning, too.

Krings’ preparation led her to this point, Coach Anderson said post-game. “She had a really good bullpen session,” she said. “She was on time she’s had a lot of really good rest. She’s taking care of her body at a different level. She’s really spending a lot of time in terms of her preparation and recovery. But I think it’s her mentality. I mean, she’s having a lot of success and she wants to come out, she wants to dominate she wants the ball. She doesn’t want me to relieve her ever again throughout the course of the rest of the season.

It wasn’t until the bottom of the second that Missouri got on the board, as Julia Crenshaw launched her ninth home run of the season over the LF wall and would be one of just three hits allowed by UNT’s Ashley Peters. A Maddie Gallagher walk followed but a fielder’s choice and caught stealing ended any sort of threat.

In the third, KKKKKKKKrings mowed down three more, bringing her tally to eight, before adding ANOTHER three in the fourth. That’s 11, if you’re keeping track.

In the bottom of the inning, the umpires decided to make things about them unnecessarily. After Peters induced a fly out and two strikeouts, Payton Jackson hit a missile to RF for a triple. That is, until the guys in blue intervened. On what was surely an obstruction call and looked a lot like a gesture from the ump to go home, Payton went towards home and was .... called out? How?

When I tell you Larissa Anderson was enraged by this call, oooooh boy. Krings and Crenshaw even commented in the postgame that that was the maddest they’d ever seen her. In the postgame, it was revealed that there was a disagreement on where the obstruction occurred, not if the obstruction occurred. Because Larissa & Co. thought it occurred between 3B & home, PJ would get home if she didn’t stop at 3B. Anderson said the crew argued it was between 2B & 3B, so she wouldn’t get a free base. There were several bizarre things happening here, all of which the media was trying to figure out during the lengthy delay:

  1. Why on EARTH would PJ go home when the ball was in the infield and would clearly get her out? That would have simply been idiotic.
  2. Why did this game have NO announcers aside from the PA guy, Darren? Where was the SEC+ crew? It would have been super helpful in figuring out what the F was going on.
  3. Why did the umpires conduct a review for what seemed like forever, to then come back and give their interpretation, then have Mizzou come back out on the field, to then disappear again? And because of no. 2 in this list, NO ONE had any idea what was happening. It looked like they didn’t know what they were doing, just standing there on the phone with the rule book in hand. (Coach told us later it the calls were to the umpire signer Christy Cornwell and NCAA rules editor)
  4. If they weren’t going to overturn the call (or get a result of the protest LA put in immediately), why the hell couldn’t this have just waited til after the game? The game was moving on at a swift pace until the stoppage, and as long as Mizzou still won the game, there was no reason for this. The delays were worse than in the Ole Miss game, and that’s saying something.

NOTE: Had Mizzou lost the game but “won” the protest, it would have been replayed from the 4th inning on with Mizzou up 2-0. Because Mizzou won the game, there is no official protest filed. Additionally, there is no video on protests. It’s Mizzou’s word vs. the umpires.

At least during the delay fans were treated to a “halftime show,” courtesy of Cotton-Eyed Joe (with the pressbox musings about what would happen in the background). We also watched Laurin Krings throw way more pitches to stay loose than she threw in the entire ballgame. (Her teammates agreed with this assessment). While the dancing wasn’t part of it, Anderson said they actually practice for this sort of thing, tabbed their “emergency action plan.” So in the middle of practice, they’ll simulate a long rain delay, and then have to get right back to it without losing focus.

Finally... FINALLY... With Krings sufficiently warmed back up and the chill in the air getting progressively worse, play resumed, and our girl struck out THREE MORE batters, bringing her tally to a career-tying 14 in five innings. The Tigers again couldn’t do anything offensively in the home half, and with increasing pressure on Laurin Krings to get them out of this game unscathed, she got right back to work.

Unfortunately, despite throwing a perfect game at this point (and through absolutely no fault of her own), it was ruined on a botched routine catch by Jenna Laird — her second such error in back-to-back games— that allowed a runner on first. A subsequent fielder's choice took out the lead runner for the second out, and Crenshaw almost got the runner on 1B too far off the bag. No problem though, as Specs sealed the deal with an inning-ending, career-high strikeout no. 16. (Her previous high was set during her perfect game against Bradley on March 6, 2022).

Of the error, Coach stressed the importance of calling a timeout to calm her down. “Nobody feels worse than Jenna.... I told her just to make the next play,” adding a joke about buying Krings dinner to lighten the mood. As for Jenna, “she’s probably going to play her butt off tomorrow. But it’s all part of the game.”

In the last set of ABs, Mizzou got nothing but a walk from the abnormally quiet bat of Alex Honnold, and back in the circle one last time went Krings. After two flyouts, one of which featured a great, heads-up play by PJ in right field, our Strikeout Queen did what she’d been called upon all night to do. SHUT.IT.DOWN.

“PJ Jackson made probably the game-winning play,” Anderson said after the game. “I mean, if she doesn’t run that ball down, that’s a double in the gap. Easily with now the tying run scoring position.”

Two of Krings’ 17 punchouts were of the looking variety, and obviously, given the no-hitter, held them to a .000 average in her 96 pitchers, 69 of which were called strikes (that’s 71.9%). As for the offense, it was quiet, with just 3 hits and a .158 BA. Ashley Peters pitched very well too, but Specs was just... well... better.

On Peters and how she was able to keep the Tigers off-balance, Coach said, “They did an unbelievable job controlling the momentum. Their pitcher got on the mound and less than a second of getting the sign, immediately went into her motion. It was extremely fast, so our hitters never really got comfortable.”

She continued. “And that’s exactly what we talked about in the locker room is that we were so rushed and we needed to disrupt her rhythm. We need to get her out of her comfort zone and change her rhythm so she wasn’t getting on the mound and going right into it.

In the postgame, when asked to reflect upon her ace’s performance, Anderson said, “It was such an impressive outing she had great command and control. I had so much confidence that no matter what pitch I threw (the pitch call), she was gonna put it exactly where I needed it needed to go. I haven’t seen many pitching outings as dominant as she just performed tonight.”