TUSCALOOSA - Coming off a win in their 2021 SEC Tournament debut over LSU, Mizzou quickly turned around to face the top seeded Florida Gators in the first semifinal matchup of the evening Friday.
The last time the two met, Mizzou took one game from the Gators in the three-game series when Florida was ranked third in the nation. Florida won the overall series back in early May 2-1.
Friday in the semifinal, it was clean-up hitter Casidy Chaumont who got it going for the Tigers in the first inning on an RBI groundout to score the leadoff Brooke Wilmes. Mizzou went up 1-0 early, but would not hold onto that lead for long.
Megan Schumacher got the nod to face off against the Gator bats. In the second, Florida pushed a runner around on an RBI single from Baylee Goddard.
The Gators kept it going in the third with a big two-run home run from Florida's big bat, Kendyl Lindaman, to give the Gators a 3-1 lead and a momentum boost. Florida tacked on two more in the fifth on a two-RBI double by Charla Echols.
Mizzou went on a scoring drought until the sixth inning when Kendyll Bailey sparked the Tiger offense with a solo shot, Mizzou's first hit since the third inning.
The Tiger offense returned to the plate in the top of the seventh trailing 5-2 and needing a miracle. With Florida one out away from the win, Mizzou sparked a rally. Chaumont doubled and Kim Wert walked to put two on. Cayla Kessinger stepped up and shot a ball up the middle to score Chaumont and keep the Tigers with two on for Emma Raabe.
Raabe battled through seven pitches, and on the eighth delivered the very miracle Mizzou needed. The junior ripped one deep to left-center for a three-run home run, giving the Tigers a 6-5 lead after a big four-run seventh heading into the final half inning.
Missouri head coach Larissa Anderson turned the ball over to Emma Nichols to close out the win for the Tigers. Florida had other plans. After a back-to-back walk and hit-by-pitch, Lindaman stepped up again for the Gators putting the ball in play to score one and tie the game at 6-6 with two outs and the winning run on base.
In the final at-bat, Florida's Jaimie Hoover hit a hard grounder to the SEC Freshman of the Year Jenna Laird at shortstop who was late on the throw because of a mishandle on the ground ball. The throw and Hoover arrived at first base for a photo finish with the winning run crossing home plate, but Hoover just beat the throw and was safe, giving Florida the walk-off win, 7-6.
Florida advanced to the SEC final and will face the third-seeded Alabama on the Crimson Tide's home turf Saturday.
The Tigers were predicted pre-season to finish eighth in the SEC and shattered those predictions finishing fourth in the best softball conference in the country.
The loss brings an end to Missouri's SEC tournament run, but they still hold a strong position to host a regional in the NCAA softball tournament. Teams and host-sites will be announced at the selection show on Sunday at 8 p.m.