Mizzou Drops Opener to LSU
COLUMBIA -- The No. 9 Missouri softball team heads dropped the first game of the NCAA Super Regional to the LSU Tigers, falling by 6-1 score on Saturday night. Mizzou heads in to Sunday needing to win both games to avoid elimination and snap their Women's College World Series streak at three straight seasons.
LSU threatened in the top of the first inning, putting the first two runners aboard on. A.J. Andrews started the game with a base hit to left field and Chelsea Thomas walked Simone Heyward to put two aboard. After a strikeout, Andrews stole third to put a pair of runners on the corners. Juliana Santos laid down a bunt in a suicide squeeze attempt, but Nicole Hudson made a brilliant play, flipping the ball with her glove to Jenna Marston at the plate, who made the tag and record the out. Thomas struck out the next hitter to end the inning and get out of the jam.
After a pair of scoreless innings, LSU broke through in the third with a pair of runs to take a 2-0 lead. The first two runners reach safely again, as Dylan Supak drew a full count walk to leadoff the inning and Andrews reached on a seeing-eye single up the middle. The Tigers got a break on a pop out on a bunt, but Thomas' third walk of the game loaded the bases and set up a bloop single by Allison Falcon brought in a pair of runs. Another walk reloaded the bases but Thomas worked out of it with her fifth strikeout.
Mizzou got their first hit of the game with a one out single off the bat of Ashtin Stephens. Mackenzie Sykes followed with a base hit of her own, putting two aboard, but LSU pitcher Rachele Fico got out of the jam but getting ground outs off the bat of Marston and Ashley Fleming, ending the inning.
Missouri finally got to Fico in the bottom of the fourth, scoring a run to cut the lead in half. Hudson started the inning with a line drive double to the opposite field, sliding in ahead of the tag for the team's third hit of the game. She took third on a slow ground out by Lindsey Muller, and came in to score on a perfectly placed slap single in front of the plate by Kayla Kingsley, making it 2-1 LSU.
LSU was able to break the game wide open in the top of the fifth, scoring three times and forcing Mizzou to go to the bullpen. The first five batters reached safely to start the frame, as Thomas issued a walk and gave up two singles to load the bases. She then hit Falcon, bringing in a run, and walked Ashley Applegate to score another. After a strikeout, Thomas hit her second of the inning, plating another run, and forcing Missouri to go to the pen. Senior Kristin Nottelmann got a foul out and a strikeout to end the threat.
Mizzou was unable to get the big hit late, stranding a pair of runners aboard in both the fifth and sixth innings. In the sixth, Kelsea Roth took a leadoff walk and Muller singled to left to put two aboard, but Fico worked out of it with a strike out and induced a 5-3 double play to end the inning.
LSU added an insurance run in the seventh, started by a leadoff triple by Cassie Trosclair, followed by a double off the bat of Morgan Russell to make the lead 6-1. Missouri tried to mount a late rally in the bottom of the seventh, loading the bases with two down following a pair of singles and a walk, but Fico got out of the jam to preserve the win.
Sykes led Missouri with a pair of hits, while Kingsley drove in the lone RBI. Thomas took the loss to fall to 26-8, throwing 4.1 innings while allowing five runs on five hits, walking six and striking out seven.
Fico picked up the win to move to 19-11, throwing a complete game while allowing one run on eight hits. She struck out five and walked two. Andrews, Falcon and Juliana Santos led the offense with two hits apiece, while Falcon drove in three runs.
The announced attendance was 2,253, the fourth-highest crowd in University Field history. Mizzou looks to avoid elimination Sunday with game two, beginning at 2:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU/ESPN3.com. Should MU win, the Tigers will have to win game three which will start at 5 p.m.