Missouri Softball Falls Short of Women's College World Series
COLUMBIA -- The No. 9 Missouri softball team saw their season come to an end on Sunday night, as they were eliminated at the hands of the LSU Tigers. Mizzou pulled out a dramatic 5-1 win in 12 innings in the first game of the day, but dropped the decisive game three by a 3-1 score in the nightcap. Missouri ends their season with a 47-14 record.
In game one Missouri had a chance to get on the board first in the top of the second inning, putting the first two runners aboard, but LSU pitcher Brittany Mack worked out of the jam to keep the game scoreless. Nicole Hudson sliced a double in to the left-center field gap to lead off the inning, her second double in as many days. Kelsea Roth was then hit by a pitch, but Mack struck out Lindsey Muller for the first out of the inning. After Kayla Kingsley grounded out to put both runners in scoring position, Mack got Genovese to line out to short, ending the inning.
Mizzou took their first lead of the weekend in the next inning, scoring a run to go ahead 1-0 in a wild top of the third. Ashtin Stephens led off the frame with a walk on a 3-1 count. She took second on a sacrifice bunt and sprinted towards third with no one covering the bag. LSU pitcher Mack moved to cover the base but dropped the incoming throw for an error, allowing Stephens to reach safely. Jenna Marston then hit a ground ball to first and Stephens executed a perfect slide around the tag to make it 1-0. Hudson singled for her second hit of the game and Mizzou had second and third with two down, but Mack avoided any further damage with a strikeout of Roth to end the inning.
LSU evened things up in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly, tying the game at 1-1. Thomas issued a leadoff walk to Dylan Supak, who took second on a sacrifice bunt and third on a passed ball. After another walk and a stolen base put two aboard, Ashley Langoni lifted a fly ball to left field, scoring Supak. On the play, Hudson cut the throw off and threw out the runner going from second to third, ending the inning.
Missouri had opportunities in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but couldn't come up with any runs. In the fifth, Marston and Fleming each took walks on four pitches with two away, but Mack got Hudson to pop out and end the frame. Roth was hit by a pitch in the sixth and Kingsley singled and stole second to put a pair in scoring position, but two ground outs ended the threat. Marston laid down a perfect bunt single in the seventh and swiped second base with two down, but was left stranded.
In the LSU half of the seventh, the first two batters reached via single and a base on balls to put the winning run in scoring position. Thomas worked out of it, however, by inducing a pop out, a strikeout and a line out, sending the game to extras.
The teams went back and forth for the next several innings, with both Thomas and Mack working out of trouble. Missouri was finally able to break through in a wild top of the 12th that saw the Tigers score four runs on just one hit, taking advantage of some costly LSU fielding mistakes.
The inning started with Marston striking out but taking first base on a passed ball. Fleming followed with a base hit up the middle. Marston advanced to third on the play and Fleming took second on the throw, forcing LSU to intentionally walk Hudson to load the bases. Angela Randazzo came up and hit a chopper to the third baseman, who overthrew the catcher, allowing Marston to score. The ball ricocheted in foul territory, bringing in both Fleming and Hudson as well, while sending Randazzo to third, giving the Tigers a 4-1 lead. After a pop out, Kingsley hit a ground ball to shortstop, allowing Randazzo to come home and slide under the tag and make it 5-1.
Bailey Erwin came in to pitch for Mizzou in the bottom half of the 12th and worked a 1-2-3 with a strikeout to send the series to a decisive game three. Thomas improved to 27-8 with 11.0 innings of work, giving up one unearned run on five hits, striking out eight and walking four. Kingsley recorded two hits for her second multi-hit game of the postseason, with Hudson adding two hits and two walks as well.
Missouri jumped ahead with a run in the third for the second straight game, jumpstarted by a slap hit single by Kingsley and a base hit by Genovese to put the first two Tigers aboard. After moving in to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Stephens, Sykes dropped a bunt single on a suicide squeeze, scoring Kingsley. Marston was hit by pitch to load the bases for Fleming, who hit a shot to center, but the center fielder tracked the ball down and threw Genovese out at the plate trying to tag, ending the threat and keeping the score at 1-0.
The lead was short lived, as LSU scored three times in the bottom half of the inning. Thomas issued a pair of walks and hit a batter to load the bases, and with one away, Simone Heyward slapped a double to the left-center field gap, clearing the bases and giving LSU a 3-1 advantage.
Missouri couldn't get anything going after the third, getting set down in order in both the fourth and fifth innings. In the sixth, Marston was hit by pitch with one away, but LSU worked out of it with a strikeout and a ground out. Kingsley reached second on a two base error with two down in the seventh, by a fly out ended it.
Rachele Fico picked up the win in the game, improving to 20-11 on the season. She went all seven innings, allowing one run on two hits while striking out three. Thomas took the loss to fall to 27-9 on the season. Erwin tossed three perfect innings in relief, while Kingsley and Genovese picked up the lone hits.