COLOMBIA, MO. – A year ago, Missouri pitchers cruised through NCAA regional play, allowing two combination hits on three wins. Back at Mizzou Softball Stadium for the start of another regional tournament on Friday, MU’s Laurin Krings couldn’t replicate that same mastery in the circle but delivered more than Missouri State could handle. Krings scatter six hits and strikeouts 12 of 112 in the Tigers’ 3-1 win, setting up Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. showdown with Arizona, which beat Illinois 8-3.
Tigers coach Larissa Anderson preferred Krings (15-9) over compatriot Jordan Weber to start Friday depending on the opponent.
“The match,” Anderson said. “Looking at Missouri State and their swings…because she has such a dynamic change and she has a big speed differential between her hard stuff and her change, I knew she was a good game.”
That change spoiled MSU’s top threat to capsize the top-seeded Tigers. Krings escaped his shaky first inning in the third when the Bears (27-19) charged on a pitch hit, a single and a walk. But with two outs, Krings’ 0-2 change left Alex Boze struggling on the third strike.
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“Honestly, I trust this pitch completely,” Krings said. “If I have it that day, it will be there.”
In their first game since losing last Saturday’s SEC Championship Game, the Tigers (37-20) had no trouble putting runners on base against Bears starter Steffany Dickerson (21-8 ), but grounded nine runners in six innings, leaving two on base three times. . Brooke Wilmes powered the lineup with three hits, including two doubles, but the Tigers left Friday knowing they could have created more damage.
In the first inning, Wilmes rounded third base on Kimberly Wert’s single to center, but Anderson held her off just as she rounded the sack for home. Anderson later said the second base umpire was in his line of sight after seeing the Bears outfielder mishandle Wert’s scorcher. NCAA postseason games use four umpires instead of the standard three-person crew, giving Anderson a different view of the outfield.
“I have to find where that referee is in a four-man crew,” she said. “But looking back, yeah, Brooke told me I should have sent it.”
Kendyll Bailey and Alex Honnold were unable to extend the inning, leaving both runners on base.
But a few mistakes by Missouri State on the infield gave the Tigers the lead in the third. Wilmes doubled again then reached third on a Wert single that second baseman Kelsie Lewis couldn’t handle cleanly. Bailey’s ground dribbler at third base brought Wilmes home. With Maddie Snider at second base, Bears first baseman Madison Hunsaker tipped Honnold’s slow roll down the line, allowing Snider to score for a 2-0 lead.
The Bears finally got to Krings in the sixth with a brace from Olivia Krehbiel then a two-out single from Annie Mueller to cut the lead in half.
Tigers catcher Hatti Moore, who spent the regular season rediscovering her swing after a car accident in September sidelined her from offseason practices, played her second two-hit game of the season, opening the sixth with a single. Wilmes came back, driving pinched racer Kendal Cook.
With an offense that finished just 3 of 12 with runners in scoring position, the Tigers were lucky to have Krings in charge.
“We have to look for better throws in these situations and not press,” Anderson said. “We put the bat on the ball, but we didn’t hit hard. So we have to assess whether the pitcher took us out or did we take ourselves out? I think they just tried a little too hard in those situations.