Mizzou softball avoids elimination in the NCAA region | Mizzou Sports News


COLOMBIA, MO. –Missouri’s softball team left Saturday in search of more offense, but the Tigers should be thankful they have another day to continue the search.

Facing elimination in NCAA Regional play late Saturday night, Mizzou held off Missouri State 2-0 on home turf to set up Sunday’s Regional Finals against a perennial powerhouse.

Arizona, making an NCAA record for its 35th consecutive national tournament appearance, shut out the Tigers 2-0 earlier in the day and needs just one more win here to walk away with a regional championship. The region’s top-seeded Tigers (38-21) must beat the Wildcats (35-20) twice Sunday at Mizzou Softball Stadium to survive and advance to the super regional round. The regional final kicks off at 3:30 p.m., with a second game to follow if necessary.

“It was a long, exhausting day,” Tigers coach Larissa Anderson said. “We competed for 14 purposes. The first game just didn’t go our way. We are looking to play two more (Sunday). Our big thing going into this game tonight was to play on Sunday, to leave everything you can on the pitch, to compete, to give yourself the opportunity to play Sunday for a championship.

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After getting just four hits earlier in the day against Arizona, Missouri wasted no time against Missouri State later in the night, opening the game with a Jenna Laird triple followed by the single. Brooke Wilmes’ RBI for a 1-0 lead just seven pitches into the game. Kara Daly made it 2-0 on the second pitch of the second inning with a homer from the opposite field to the right.

But that’s all the offense the Tigers handled for the day, giving Anderson some trepidation ahead of a must-see Sunday scenario. In Saturday’s two games, Mizzou went just 8-of-51 (.157) and 3-of-18 (.167) with runners on base.

Luckily for the Tigers, Laurin Krings was nearly untouchable in two regional games and on Saturday he knocked out 11 Bears with just three hits allowed. She finished six of seven innings with one strikeout. MSU eliminated Illinois 2-0 earlier in the day.

An offensive blackout put Mizzou on the brink of elimination on Saturday. Pitching for the second time in two days, Arizona’s Hanah Bowen held the Tigers to six base runners in the 2-0 shutout. The Wildcats, a historic powerhouse that barely slipped onto NCAA court, scored the game’s only runs on Carlie Scupin’s two-run homer in the fifth against Tigers starter Jordan Weber.

“A serious win today against a very good Missouri team,” Arizona coach Caitlin Lowe said. “We had a lot of chances to score and (Scupin) got the big hit.

“I’m so proud of Bo because they had their chances and she was successful every time.”

Bo would be Bowen, who limited the Tigers to four hits and two walks on 118 pitches — a day after throwing 126 pitches in an 8-3 win over Illinois.

“I think she came out with a ton of fire (Friday) and really got through clutch situations,” Lowe said. “And I thought she fit well with Missouri. I always trust the ball in his hands.

“I felt like we failed to make any big throws (against Arizona),” Anderson said. “We chased the ball out of the area. We were caught in between. We were hesitant. For me, just coaching third, it’s like we’re guessing. We predetermine what we think she’s going to throw rather than reacting to what she throws.

The Tigers had their chance to break things up in the third inning, loading the bases with one out and the middle of the lineup due. But All-SEC star Brooke Wilmes was out and Mizzou’s career homer leader Kimberly Wert was taken out.

With lightning spotted in the area, a 78-minute weather delay stalled the game in the third inning, after which Bowen regained his dominance.

In the sixth, Mizzou’s Kendyll Bailey nearly leveled the score with a rocket left, but he hit the wall for a brace, giving the MU runners in position to score with one out. But like so many times in the past two days, the Tigers failed to capitalize. Alex Honnold and Daly came out to end the threat.

At that time, Arizona was playing understaffed after third baseman coach Lauren Lappin was ejected in the second inning. She had argued with the umpires over several Wildcat players who had been called for leaving the batter’s box early. Lowe stepped out of the dugout to replace her assistant for the remainder of the match.

“She got a little heated. It’s okay,” Lowe said. “I think that got us a little excited.”

The Tigers gave up their first runs of the regional on the home run two out and two runs from Scupin, a blast on the center field berm. Weber was one strike away from a third strikeout of the inning, but the Wildcats first baseman punished the sixth pitch at bat.

“My first two at bats, I was just trying to make adjustments,” Scupin said. “I didn’t really see her very well, but I knew she would give me some ground to hit.”

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