Missouri softball dominates UMKC in six-inning run-rule victory
Red in the face and short of breath, the slightest smirk appeared on Regan Nash’s face as she recuperated in the Tigers dugout.
The Missouri left fielder had just rounded the bases, scoring leadoff hitter Brooke Wilmes ahead of her, giving the Tigers (30-21, 10-11 Southeastern Conference) a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first in Wednesday’s game against UMKC (25-25, 5-10 Western Athletic).
But this trip around the bags was no usual home run. In fact, it wasn’t one at all. This play was the spark that led to Missouri’s 8-0 victory over UMKC.
As Nash raced down the first-base line, Kangaroos starter Kailyn Packard fielded the bunted ball and fired it toward first. First baseman Chyanne Onstad whiffed on the catch, allowing the ball to trickle into foul territory. Error. Wilmes scored easily.
Right fielder Sydney Garcia ranged toward the foul wall to field the ball, but she too was unable to make a clean play, letting the it travel further. Error. Looking like a flash of light with her yellow jersey, Nash sprinted home, scoring without a throw.
“I saw it go past the first baseman, and I got to second base and saw Coach (Larissa Anderson) still waving me around, and the ball was behind me, so I had no idea what was going on,” Nash said. “And then she pointed me home, and I was like ‘Oh gosh, I wonder what happened.’”
Although the Tigers were not nearly done scoring, putting up one more run in the first, four in the fourth and another in the sixth, this frantic play turned out to score the game-winning runs as Missouri triumphed in six innings.
Starter Madi Norman ensured that three-run molehill looked like a mountain to the ‘Roos’ hitters.
After a shaky first inning, allowing two walks and a long single, Norman settled in, looking like the ace the Tigers need her to be.
Over the next four innings, the redshirt senior allowed just one hit while striking out four.
“I came into the dugout, and Coach (Anderson) just said I was focusing a little too much on hitting my spots and not enough at attacking the hitters,” Norman said. “So going forward, I just worked on getting ahead and making sure that I was just focusing more on movement than spots.”
After being kept off the board for two innings, the Missouri offense decided to put Wednesday evening’s contest out of reach in the fourth inning.
With two runners on, shortstop Jazmyn Rollin roped a line drive over Garcia’s head, scoring right fielder Callie Martin from second.
The next batter, catcher Hatti Moore, did her teammate one better, smashing a pitch over Garcia’s head and over the fence for a three-run home run, giving Missouri a 7-0 advantage.
“No, I didn’t (know it was gone.) I was running hard and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I need to run,’ and then I was like ‘Oh crap, it’s over. How ‘bout that?’” Moore said.
The sophomore collected three hits, three RBI and scored two runs.
Two innings later, Rollin delivered the knockout blow, driving in Wilmes with a single to right.
“It’s not really about my performance, it’s about my team’s performance and bouncing back from what we had over the weekend,” Rollin said. “I’m just really proud of my team.”
Missouri ends its regular season with a three-game set against No. 16 South Carolina, starting at 7 p.m. Friday at home. After the season concludes, the team will travel to College Station, Texas, to compete in the SEC Softball Tournament, which begins May 8.
The Tigers do not yet know their seed or whom they will play. The only thing they can do is focus on the Gamecocks and improve in any way they can.
“It’s going to start in the circle. Our pitchers can’t give up free bases,” Anderson said. “We have to really compete in that first inning. That’s the biggest thing.”
“Definitely keeping our energy up and just believing that we have the talent to go far in the tournament,” Nash said. “We’ve played a lot of the teams that we’re gonna face and possibly face, and we know that we have the talent to beat anyone in the country. We just have to believe and trust in that.”
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