Game 1: MIZZOU 1 | NORTH TEXAS 0
Game 2: MIZZOU 2 | NORTH TEXAS 1
With the Tigers clad in teal in celebration of the life of former Mississippi State player Alex Wilcox, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer in 2018 at just 18 years of age, they took to the field for Game 2 against the North Texas Mean Green (they wore teal during warmups and in their hair ribbons).
Jordan Weber, who has had a bit of an “off” season when comparing it to the last few seasons for her, was in the circle for Mizzou, facing off against McKenzie Wagoner (9-5, 2.17 ERA in 95.1 IP). Not much happened on either side in this one. After a walk and strikeout (the first of 3) for Weber to start the game, Mizzou’s bats tried to get something going early on. After an Alex Honnold walk and a Kara Daly single, however, their luck dried up, and they stranded two (of their 4 total on the day).
In the top of the 2nd, Weber ran into a bit of trouble but ultimately was able to limit the damage to just one run. A lead-off single was followed by a double to right center which advanced the runner to 3B. After an infield popup, a sac fly brought in the Mean Green’s lone run of the game. and gave them an early lead. That lead would remain intact until the 6th as both teams struggled to get much going. Mizzou went down in order in the 2nd-5th innings, while UNT had a walk and single in the 4th and a HBP in the 5th.
On Weber’s performance, and we’ve talked about this before here in recaps, you can tell the illegal pitches are weighing on her. “She’s having to do a little bit different in her push and she’s not getting the same spin. It’s like a screwball spin. She’s not getting the upward movement she typically does, so the ball’s dropping out of her hand a little bit more. She needs to get to the front of the ball and she’s not really driving off with the same power that I’ve seen.”
In the top of the 6th, with new Tiger pitcher Cierra Harrison in the circle, a single by Kailey Gamble - that should clearly have been an error on Julia Crenshaw - got a runner on, and a sac bunt advanced PR Emma Grahmann before she swiped 3B. A walk put two on to test Harrison, but she got out of trouble with a strikeout to end the inning.
In the bottom of the inning, Megan Moll led off with a single to left field then advanced to 2B on a wild pitch. An RBI single by Alex Honnold turned triple-ish as she took 3B on the throw, which allowed Moll to score. And in an inexplicable decision by UNT, instead of making the play right in front of them at home on Daly’s bunt single, they chose to go to 1B, which allowed a run to score and Daly legged out the single. While they were unable to add to the tally, it made it 2-1 Tigers with just three outs to go.
CC and her defense slammed the door shut on the Mean Green to end the game, as she induced a groundout and popout to Crenshaw, and a flyout to PJ to end it.
In the postgame, Coach talked about the team hitting a lot of balls right at the North Texas players. She commended her team’s passes at the ball and contact, and was happy they didn’t get discouraged. “They didn’t change anything,” she said. “We haven’t really been able to come from behind in games late in the game so we really need that.”
When asked to elaborate a bit more on some of the struggles she’s seen with coming from behind in games, or with many of the players on the team, she reminded us about their relative inexperience, and how they’re teaching them they can’t make up for past at-bats all at once. “You can’t hit a four-run home run with nobody on base.” And that they just have to focus on single at-bats, and not letting the score carry over to the next game.
“There’s so much growth that we have to do against the best competition in the country. You can’t catch your breath. You can’t come up for air because it’s constantly All-American pitcher, All-American pitcher, All-American pitcher, so it’s really hard to build your confidence. That’s been our whole season.” She continued, “So it’s a grind and when you see that they’re having great at-bats but they’re hitting right at people, as a coach, you still try to encourage them that they’re doing a great job.”
- Alex Honnold: 1-3 | R | RBI | BB
- Kara Daly: 2-3 | RBI
- Megan Moll 1-2 | R
Overall Batting: 2 R | 4 H | 2 RBI | BB | 3 K | 2 FC | 4 LOB | .174 BA | .333 RISP | .167 leadoff
- Jordan Weber: 5 IP | 4 H | ER | 2 BB | 3 K | 1 HBP| 1 2B | 21 BF | 85 pitches
- Cierra Harrison: WIN | 2 IP | 1 H | 1 BB | 2 K | 8 BF | 37 pitches
Overall Pitching: 5 H | 1 ER | 3 BB | 5 K (1 looking) | 1 HBP | 1 XBH | .217 OppBA | .125 w/ 2 outs | .000 RISP | .571 leadoff
Game 3: MIZZOU 5 | NORTH TEXAS 0
Happy Bark in the Park Day!
With ace Laurin Krings back in the circle, the Tigers looked for their first sweep of the season, this time facing off against Skylar Savage (6-3, 3.91 ERA in 57.1 IP). Honestly, I’m surprised head coach Rodney DeLong didn’t bring Ashley Peters back out, given the Tigers’ difficulty in timing up her quick trigger in Game 1.
Not as overpowering as Game 1 — which would be hard to do — Specs still mixed in some nasty stuff and got the job done while awaiting Mizzou’s offense to take off. She worked around leadoff singles in the first two innings and a walk in the third before settling in in the fourth.
Per Coach Anderson in the postgame, they quickly realized what North Texas was doing, and were able to make adjustments. “The great thing about Krings,” she said, “is she does not live on one side of the plate... and if I see if hitters start to make an adjustment, which they did that first inning— both those balls that were hit in the first two innings were outer half. So then I knew they made an adjustment and they were looking for the pitch outside. So then we immediately take back the inside.”
After the Ole Miss game, Anderson had stressed to the media that the team needed to work on their short game. They had had five or six bunts in that series go for base hits, and said, “We don’t play that way. We defend the bunt. We have to be quicker and react faster... I’m gonna immediately go back and watch the video and see, are we late in reacting to what the batter is telling us, and why we’re not getting to the ball soon enough.”
“It’s killing us,” she said quite bluntly.
Well, in the 2nd inning especially, Anderson’s talk with the team hit home, as Daly had positioned herself perfectly to react to a bunt, and it led to a key double play.
As for the Tigers’ offense, while Missouri got runners on base in the 1st and 2nd innings, they stranded them each time. After an Alex Honnold walk in the bottom of the 1st, Kara Daly got on with a single before two groundouts ended the threat. In the 2nd, Chester got on with an unusual error by the UNT second baseman — the ball went through her legs — but again, she was stranded.
In the bottom of the 3rd, however, that changed with some savvy baserunning. After Jenna Laird led off with a walk, she swiped 2B and was able to get up and scramble for 3B after the throw went into CF. With Laird now at 3B, Honnold walked, and then when she broke for 2B, Laird took off for home, and the Tigers executed a double steal. A Kara Daly triple bounced off the CF wall, making it 2-0 Tigers, and sending Savage out of the game.
Prior to Kara’s AB, Coach said she approached her and told her to try and hit the ball to the right-center gap. Anderson had noticed that Savage was throwing that drop ball on the outer half, and early on they were trying to pull that outside pitch. By telling her where to try and hit it, it “was going to keep her in the contact zone a little bit longer.” She was essentially telling her not to do too much and reminding her that you can’t try to pull an outside pitch. “Maddie and Alex (later in the game), the exact same thing. When the ball is in the right spot and you’re on time, it’s gonna go where it needs to go.”
In her place, Mackenzie Childers (1-2 3.46 ERA in 30.1 IP), who started strong with back-to-back strikeouts of Payton Jackson and Julia Crenshaw before allowing an RBI single down the RF line to make it 3-0.
On Jenna’s baserunning, Coach said postgame, “Jenna is just fierce and causes so much havoc. She has great instincts on the bases.” She continued. “ On that first and third, there was no hesitation at all. As soon as Alex stole 2B and as soon as the ball came out of the catcher’s hands, she was immediately breaking home. It’s really tough to defend that.
With some run support, Krings had a 1-2-3 inning in the 4th to go with her third strikeout, and she added two more in the 5th before allowing a single and as a stolen base. However, strikeout no. 6 ended the threat.
In the postgame, Specs talked about how the pitching success impacts the rest of the team. “I feel like it definitely takes the pressure off their shoulders. I’m always going to do everything I can for them to make it a little easier, less stress.”
In the home half, Honnold whacked her 11th home run of the season from leadoff, making it 4-0, before Crenshaw smashed a double to right center, bringing in Daly, who was on with a walk. With a 5-0 lead, Krings struck out her 7th and 8th batters in the top of the 6th and secured another complete game shutout, her second of the weekend, on a DP and a game-ending strikeout in the 7th.
In the postgame when asked about her 26 strikeouts, Laurin said Coach pulled her aside and reminded her, it’s just another game. “Don’t expect them to just give it to you because of Friday,” she told her. It wasn’t a given she was going to stay in, however. When Anderson visited her in the circle in the 6th, she asked her star if she was going to have to pull her. Krings’ response? “No, I’m finishing this game.” She added, “It feels really good to complete something I started and just take my team to a win.”
- Jenna Laird: 0-3 | R | BB | 2 SB
- Alex Honnold: 2-2 | 2 R | RBI | HR | 2 BB | 2 SB
- Kara Daly: 2-3 | 2 R | RBI | 3B | BB | K | LOB
- Julia Crenshaw: 1-3 | RBI | 2B | K | 2 LOB
- Maddie Gallagher: 1-2 | RBI | BB
- Laurin Krings: 7IP | CG | 3 H | BB | 9 K (1 looking) | 23 BF | 91 pitches | .136 OppBA | .143 w/ 2 outs | .000 RISP | .429 leadoff
Overall Batting: 5 R | 6 H | 4 RBI | 3 XBH | 5 BB | 6 K | 7 LOB | 4 SB | .240 BA | .250 w/ 2 outs | .200 RISP | .333 leadoff’