Missouri Belts Out 14 Hits in First Game of Regionals
COLUMBIA - The fifth-seeded Missouri softball team opened up the NCAA Columbia Regional with a 12-3 win in five innings against Illinois State. The win advanced Mizzou to the semifinals of the winner's bracket, improving to 47-7 on the season.
Junior Ashley Fleming and sophomore Nicole Hudson each homered, while Fleming, Kathryn Poet and Lisa Simmons each picked up a pair of hits.
In the first, Kristin Nottelmann worked around a leadoff double to Kara Nelson, who moved up to third on a sacrifice bunt. With one out, Nottelmann the next two batters to strike out, ending the inning. Nottelmann fell behind Abby Olson 3-0 before working back with three straight strikes, getting Olson out looking.
Missouri's offense came out red-hot, jumpstarted by an infield single by Rhea Taylor on the first pitch, who then promptly stole second base on the following pitch. She'd come in to score on a seeing-eye single by Jenna Marston, who pulled one through the right side. After a ground out moved Marston to second, Ashley Fleming hit a two-run home run, her 13th of the season, to give the Tigers a 3-0 advantage. Kathryn Poet was then hit by a pitch, and she would score two batters later when Lisa Simmons singled into right to go up 4-0.
Illinois State loaded the bases with nobody out in the top of the third, but Missouri was able to get out of it with minimal damage. After a leadoff walk, a fielder's choice put two on, while a base hit by Kara Nelson loaded them up. Nottelmann got the next batter to pop out to center field, but issued a walk to bring home the first Redbird run of the day. Two straight pop outs induced by the Tiger pitcher limited any further damage, and kept the Missouri lead at 4-1.
The Tigers got that run back and much more in the bottom of the third inning, scoring eight runs on eight hits to break things wide open. After Illinois State got a lineout to start the inning, Poet singled and Princess Krebs reached on a fielder's choice as Poet beat the throw in to second. Simmons then drove in her second run of the day, singling back up the middle and plating Poet.
Senior Marla Schweisberger came off the bench and delivered a two-run pinch hit double, while a base hit by Abby Vock with a fielding and throwing error by the right fielder on the play brought home Schweisberger on the play. After a two out walk, Nicole Hudson connected on a three-run shot for her 12th home run of the season, clearing the bases. After a double by Fleming, Poet got her second hit of the inning, singling to left-center and plating Fleming to make it 12-1.
The Redbirds were able to get two back in the top of the fourth inning on a Laura Canopy home run, scoring Liz Andrews who beat out an infield single to start the inning. Illinois State got two more runners on with a walk and a single, but Nottelmann worked out of it and kept the score at 12-3.
The victory for Nottelmann improved her 16-1 on the year. She gave up five hits and three runs while walking three and striking out three.
Missouri advances to play DePaul at 3 p.m. on Saturday and the winner advances to Sunday's championship game. The loser will play again at 8 p.m. on Saturday night against the winner of the Indiana and Illinois State elimination game, which begins at 5:30 p.m.