No. 9 Tigers Win Big 12 Championship
COLUMBIA - The No. 9 Missouri softball team claimed their first regular season Big 12 Championship since 1997 on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader sweep over Iowa State, winning 8-2 in game one and 8-1 in the finale. The two victories moved the Tigers to 46-7 overall and 15-3 in the conference, guaranteeing themselves at least a split of the Big 12 regular season title. Texas is currently half a game back at 14-3, and if they beat Baylor tomorrow the Tigers and Longhorns would be co-champions.
The teams were originally only scheduled to play one game on Saturday, but with a rainy Sunday afternoon in the forecast, it was decided for the two squads to play a doubleheader to make sure they got both games in.
The highlights of the day included a two home run game by Abby Vock in the second game, two three-run blasts by Ashley Fleming on the afternoon and a complete game victory by Kristin Nottelmann in her first Big 12 start in almost two months.
Missouri 8, Iowa State 2
The Tigers and Cyclones traded two scoreless innings to start the game before Fleming's first home run of the day broke the 0-0 tie. Vock singled to start the inning and stole second base, while Jenna Marston drew a one out walk. Two batters later, Fleming drilled the first pitch she saw over the fence in right field, putting the Tigers ahead.
Iowa State had a crucial opportunity in the fourth inning, loading the bases with nobody out after Sara Davison led off the inning with a solo home run to cut the lead to 3-1. Dalyn Varela then singled, Erica Miller followed by reaching on a fielder's choice, and a fielding error put three Cyclones on. However, Chelsea Thomas then locked in and struck out the next three Iowa State hitters in order to prevent any further damage.
In the fifth, Missouri gave themselves some cushion with another three run frame, extending their lead to 6-1. Marston led off the inning with a double into left field, with Fleming drawing a four pitch walk two batters later. After Fleming stole second, Princess Krebs doubled to left, scoring both runners. Lisa Simmons then followed with a base hit, allowing Krebs to score on the play.
Two straight singles and a stolen base in the sixth gave Missouri runners on second and third with one out. Catherine Lee led off the inning with a pinch hit base hit, while Marston collected a single two batters later. Vock came back in to replace Lee - who hit for Vock - and came in to score on a groundout. Marston would score on a wild pitch, making it 8-1.
Iowa State tacked on one in the seventh, but Hudson was able to shut the door on the Cyclones, securing the win for Missouri. Thomas picked up the win, throwing six innings of four hit ball, allowing just one run while striking out nine and walking zero. Marston went 2-for-3 with three runs scored, while Fleming scored twice and drove in three on her blast. Krebs had a perfect 3-for-3 day at the plate with two RBI and a run scored.
Missouri 8, Iowa State 1
Once again the two squads traded two innings without scoring, and once again the Tigers broke it open with a big third inning. Missouri scored six runs in the frame, coming on five hits which included two home runs.
Megan Christopher started the inning with a four pitch walk, setting up Vock's first home run of the game, coming to left-center field. After a groundout, Marston and Hudson each beat out infield singles, which allowed Fleming to connect on her second three run homer of the day, sending this one to the opposite field in left. With two outs, Krebs reached on a fielding error to keep the inning alive, and then stole second base to get in scoring position for Lisa Simmons, who singled back up the middle and brought home the sixth run of the inning.
Vock's second home run of the day with one out in the fourth got the scoring going again for the Tigers, as the solo shot put Mizzou up 7-0. Back-to-back doubles by Marston and Hudson made it 8-0.
Iowa State got a run in the fifth to keep the game alive and avoid the run rule, scoring an unearned run after a two out fielding error.
Nottelmann got her second Big 12 win of the season in her first conference start since March 23 at Kansas. The righty went the distance, giving up just three hits and the unearned run while striking out three.
Fleming now has 12 home runs on the season - most on the squad and 10th most in a single season at Missouri to go with her 55 runs batted in which tie her for eighth all-time in a year. Marston's two doubles on the day tie her with Fleming and give her 15 on the year, tied for fourth-most in a season.
Mizzou will now sit and wait and find out their fate for the NCAA Regionals, which begin this week. The NCAA Selection Show is at 9 p.m. CT on Sunday, May 15.