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Mizzou gets confidence back with contagious hitting in game 3

Were there two games before Sunday? Who’s to say?

Mizzou celebrates against Alabama April 2, 2023
@MizzouSoftball, Twitter

Mizzou Softball (22-16, 2-10 SEC) welcomed in the Alabama Crimson Tide (26-11, 4-5 SEC) for Alumni Weekend and was shockingly - given the 40+ mph wind gusts on Friday - actually able to get all three games in without weather delays for the first time this season. I probably could just copy/paste the Auburn recap for the first two games at this point, as it was much of the same problems that plagued the black & gold. When faced with superior pitching, they faltered, unable to manufacture anything but a strikeout it seemed.

But all it takes is one glorious game to get some confidence and turn the season around. I think the final game of this series was that game. I sure hope I’m right, friends. Coach agrees, for what it’s worth.

After Sunday’s win, Anderson said, “Oh, we needed that. I mean, we’ve been in a lot of close games, and we’ve lost a lot in the seventh inning and ninth inning. We needed to feel really good about what we’ve been doing. I mean, they’ve [the team] been grinding. They’ve been competing, we just haven’t had the ball bounced our way and it was great to see the ball bounced our way today.”

On to the recaps.

Game One: MIZ 0 | ALA 4

Aside from some scattered hits here and there and that unfortunate home run, Jordan Weber pitched very well in this one. But, as per usual it seems, what she didn’t get was — absolutely necessary when facing an SEC giant (literally, she’s very tall) Montana Fouts — any sort of run support. Fouts (13-6, 1.97 ERA) was phenomenal in this one, mowing down Mizzou batters left and right with a dozen strikeouts. To show just how unhittable she was, much like Maddie Penta in the Auburn series, she got to Alex Honnold, Riley Frizell and Chantice Phillips twice each. And actually, per statbroadcast, the only Tiger she DIDN’T strike out was freshman Katie Chester. Way to go, freshie!

It was dismal, you guys, as only Chantice Phillips (a single to RF in the 2nd) and Kara Daly managed hits (7th inning). Julia Crenshaw added a walk and Maddie Gallagher reached on a FC in the 5th, but that was it. Another recap in which I can wrap up the offense with minimal word count.

Offensively for the Tide, they had a double in the 2nd, but Weber took two herself to end the inning, and it wasn’t until the 4th when the Tide got the only runs they'd need to win this one. Kara Daly’s near-DP got just one out before a bunt stymied Weber to get another runner on. After a HBP call was reversed, Daly made the second out on a play at 3B. However, the next ball was hit at Daly again, and this time it got away from her, loading the bases for a Larissa Preuitt grand slam to RF (the first HR of the freshman’s career, mind you) that I SWORE Payton Jackson had a glove on, making it 4-0 Tide. In the 6th they threatened again after a single and walk forced Weber out of the game with two away in favor of reliever Megan Schumacher. Schuey came in and allowed just 1 H and got a strikeout in 18 pitches to finish off the game. Jo, for what it’s worth, had allowed only 6 H, 4 ER, 2 walks, a double and a HR in 95 pitches and was largely successful. Again, the run support was a net-negative.

Overall hitting stats: 2 H | 1 BB | 12 SO (2 looking) | 3 LOB | .087 BA | .286 lead off | .125 w/ 2 outs

Overall pitching stats: 7 H | 4 ER | 2 BB | 1 SO | 1 2B | 1 HR | .250 OppBA | .364 w/ 2 outs

Game Two: MIZ 0 | ALA 4 in 9 innings

Laurin Krings was phenomenal in this one, going toe to toe with Montana Fouts, who pitched back-to-back days for the first time this season in hopes of taking the series (it worked). But as was the case with the first game, the lack of run support was the deciding factor here. Krings worked in and out of a jam here and there but was largely unstoppable in what was a very long game.

After a strikeout in the 1st went past catcher Julia Crenshaw, the Tide got their first runner on. After a bouncer to CF, however, a DP ended the inning as Payton Jackson’s heads-up play in RF got not only the second out but an out at 2B as the runner left early. In the 3rd, the Tide tried to threaten again as a successful bunt beat out the tag, but the runner was thrown out trying to swipe 2B. A walk added another runner, but a ground out ended the threat. In the 5th, after strikeout no. 5 for Krings, she allowed back-to-back singles before another K and a FC ended the inning. In the 7th, a leadoff single to shallow CF got a runner on before a DP ball and a grounder ended that inning, too. The pitching and the defense largely did their job, especially through regulation on Saturday.

It wasn’t until the 9th when I fully wasn’t paying attention any longer that the game was put out of reach for Missouri (I was watching the gymnastics Regional Finals at this point— GO TIGERS). A solo shot broke open the game 1-0, and with two outs and after a HBP, Krings came out of the game in favor of reliever Megan Schumacher. And that is when the wheels came off. Schuey proceeded to allow a 2-run double and a walk to go with another RBI single to make it 4-0 before being knocked out of the game for little-used reliever Emma Nichols with not an out to her name. Nichols was able to get the last out on just two pitches, thankfully, but the damage was done.

Krings, in her 8.2 IP, allowed just 9 H and 2 ER to go with a BB and 6 SO. She also hit one batter in her 129 pitches. She did everything right to get a win, but the Tigers just couldn’t capitalize on this one.

In the bottom of the 9th, down four, all the Tigers could muster was a strikeout by Daly and a flyout by Phillips to leave Gallagher with the game on the line. She singled, but Chester fouled out to end the game.

Aside from the aforementioned offense in the 9th, the Tigers only sporadically got runners on base in this one. Crenshaw (walk in the 1st, single in the 4th), Hollingworth (FC in the 5th), Laird (single in the 6th), Honnold (walk in the 8th). That, my friends, doesn’t typically lend itself to a win. And it certainly didn’t on Saturday. The Tigers also struck out 14 times at the hands of Ms. Fouts, led by Honnold and Daly (3 each), then Philips, Gallagher and Hollingsworth (2 each). Only two starters didn’t K in this one— congrats to Laird and... Chester! Again, the freshie coming through!

Overall Hitting Stats: 5 H | 2 BB | 14 SO | 7 LOB | 1 error | .156 BA | .182 w/ 2 outs

Overall Pitching Stats: 12 H | 4 ER | 2 BB | 6 K | 1 HBP | 1 2B | 1 HR | .324 OppBA | .333 w/ 2 outs

“No one likes to lose,” Coach Anderson reminded us post-game, “And when you fight and you give everything you possibly can, and the outcome doesn’t go your way it can be deflating, and they just have to continue to believe that we’re doing everything we possibly can. So you don’t have control of a lot of the results. But as long as we’re giving forth the effort and the passion and the desire we know things are eventually going to turn around. We just have to continue to believe and that’s been really the message. It isn’t anything that we’re doing anything wrong. We just have to continue to fight and create more opportunities.”

Game Three: MIZ 11 | ALA 3 in 5 innings

With Jordan Weber back in the circle for the final game of the series in front of a really nice crowd — around 2,300 had gathered per Mizzou Softball Twitter, breaking the weekend record set during the 2021 NCAA Regionals — we all hoped we’d see a good game. After two games of Montana Fouts awesomeness and the Tides’ first series win in hand, Alabama gave Alex Salter (4-1, 3.49 ERA) the ball. Side note: Probably regretting that decision now, huh?

The Tide got on the scoreboard first in this one after a solo shot to LF by Ally Shipman, her 3rd of the season, gave Alabama an early 1-0 lead in the top of the 2nd, but that was all they could muster that inning. The Tigers came really close to tying it up in the bottom of the inning after Maddie Gallagher walked and advanced to 2B on Katie Chester’s sac bunt. Gallagher’s heads-up baserunning allowed her to take 3B on a FC by Chantice Phillips, and the Tigers threatened with runners at the corners. Gallagher was thrown out at home on a FC, however, and a groundout stranded a pair of runners to end the inning.

A leadoff walk led to a bit of a mess for Mizzou in the 3rd after Gallagher, while able to get out the lead runner at second on a FC, botched the throw to first to get the DP and instead of ending the inning, allowed the runner to advance to 2B. Then came Ashley Prange’s 11th bomb of the year, making it 3-0 Alabama, and making me wonder who I would ask to speak to after the game if it ended up being yet another loss. Those aren’t fun media meetings, friends. Weber exited after that, and in came Laurin Krings, who had just pitched a boatload of innings the night before. Why did Anderson go back to her?

“Immediately after yesterday’s loss, [Krings] said, ‘Am I going tomorrow?’ We had her and Jordan both in the bullpen ready to go be a starter,” Anderson said. She continued. “I have a designated starter and I have an emergency starter. So if Jordan gets into trouble early, we have Krings ready to go so I don’t have to worry about someone else getting ready in the bullpen.”

The Tigers responded. Emphatically.

In the bottom of the third, the Tigers’ very dormant offense WOKE THE F UP. After an Alex Honnold leadoff walk, an error by the SS put runners on 1B & 2B for Kara Daly’s RBI standup double, which made it 1-3.

Coach said in the postgame, “I think the headset told me that we had 41 scoreless innings in the SEC and that’s a drought and then with Kara capitalizing and hitting that ball into the gap that really created momentum, being able to hit a ball hard.”

An RBI groundout by Gallagher brought in another run, making it 2-3 with 2 outs for Katie Chester, who launched a liner into RF, knotting the game at 3. Euphoria ensued, and it wasn’t over. Chantice Phillips then launched a two-run bomb to left center, her first SEC homer, making it 5-3 and forcing Salter from the game in favor of Jaala Torrence, who ended the inning but the damage was done.

Phillips said in the postgame, “We’re gonna play for our pitchers because Laurin had a great outing yesterday, as you guys know, and we just have to give them that run support and it’s finally good to back them up for once. So we’re gonna keep that going.” Indeed, ChannyP.

When asked about the aftermath of that home run, Phillips said, “It was kind of cool to see everyone come out after all the momentum and everything... I just felt overwhelming love and support, and I just know they’re always in my corner regardless and it’s so nice to have all of them and just to see them all when I was running third base... I’m with the right people. I’m in the right place.”

The Tide rose up in the top of the 4th (you see what I did there?) and was able to load the bases after Krings allowed back-to-back singles. A questionably called error on Daly — that ball was smoked right at her, not sure what she was supposed to do there — the Tide loaded the bases, but Krings struck out the final batter of the inning, the second in her relief stint. I WISH I had a video of her reaction there, as it was intense and incredible. The media unfortunately didn’t get to talk to Specs in the postgame, or else I would have asked her about it.

In the bottom of the inning, Payton Jackson was nailed by a pitch in the knee (seriously, the crowd gasped), and Jenna Laird, who was pretty quiet this series, hit into a fielders choice, allowing PJ to take 2B. Honnold, also very quiet in this series, then singled to left before swiping 2B and advancing on a wild pitch. Jackson, likely needing to ice that knee, came home on another WP making it 6-3.

Not to be outdone, Crenshaw then also hit into a FC and Honnold scored on a beautiful slide that went around the tag. Yes, I used a Cubs GIF below, but it was funny.

In the 5th, KKrings worked around a walk, but that was it for the Tide. In the bottom of the inning, the Tigers just added to the mayhem, as Maddie led off with a single and then took 2B after a Chester walk. ChannyP, who was on actual fire this game, hit a bases-clearing double to make it 9-3. After an off-throw, she took third on the play.

After Hollingsworth walked, Torrence was forced out of the game in favor of Lauren Esman, who was the starting 1B. An RBI single by PJ brought in Phillips but Holly was thrown out at home. Alabama then made a bizarre decision in my mind, deciding to intentionally walk both Jenna and Alex, before Mizzou made them pay the ultimate price... a run-rule victory. Crenshaw singled to center and brought in the walk-off run-rule victory, 11-3.

“Our hitting coach (Jeff Cottrill) always talks about how do you respond after hitting a home run,” Phillips said. “And he says the worst thing to do is to pop up so I was like, ‘I just gotta get one off,’ but I kept seeing them shift and I can pretty much pick where the pitch was gonna go from there. And I saw the centerfielder kind of hightail it outside and then I was like, ‘Okay, that’s where we’re going and I just had good direction and it felt good to get a good swing off.’” Mission accomplished.

Notable Stats:

  • Alex Honnold: 1-2 | 2 R | 2 BB | SB
  • Julia Crenshaw: 2-4 | R | RBI | K
  • Kara Daly: 1-3 | R | RBI | 2B | K
  • Maddie Gallagher: 1-2 | R | RBI | BB
  • Katie Chester: 1-1 | R | 2B | BB | sac
  • Chantice Phillips: 3-3 | 2 R | 4 RBI | 2B | HR
  • Payton Jackson: 1-2 | 2 R | RBI | HBP
  • Jordan Weber: 2.2 IP | 3 H | 3 ER | 2 BB | 3 K | 2 HR | 56 pitches
  • Laurin Krings: 2.1 IP | 2 H | BB | 2 K | 36 pitches

Overall Hitting Stats: 11 R | 10 H | 9 RBI | 3 2B | HR | 6 BB | 2 K | HBP | 2 SAC | 3 LOB | 2 SB | CS | .476 BA | .500 w/ 2 outs | .667 RISP

Overall Pitching Stats: 5H | 3 ER | 3 BB | 5 SO | 2 HR | .250 OppBA | .143 w/ 2 out

When asked how this win could impact this season going forward, Phillips said, “It’s gonna get us going. I feel like and just so you can see who you can be that you know you can beat anybody.”

UP NEXT: Mizzou’s season doesn’t get any easier, but they’ve stopped the figurative bleeding and gotten another SEC win, and they head to Baton Rouge to face the Bayou Bengals in a Thursday-Saturday series after ending this series on a high note.