Offense drops Tigers in softball sweep by Kentucky

A tough SEC opener only got tougher on Sunday afternoon, as Missouri lost all three games of its first conference series to Kentucky while scoring no runs in 21 innings.

The offensive challenges only compounded the defense challenges, as Kentucky’s combination of skillful left-handed hitters and powerful right-handed hitters overwhelmed base paths and put constant pressure on Missouri’s pitchers. The Wildcats beat Mizzou 5-0, 6-0 on Sunday after winning the series opener 5-0 on Friday night.

Pitching issues

Ciera Harrison stood in the pitching circle in the first inning talking with his catcher, Julia Crenshawas Larisa Anderson waited for the outcome of his challenge. The rest of the infield joined in, waiting to see if the referee’s review would get the Tigers a desperately needed second out in the inning.

Kentucky’s batters shoved their way into good counts and placed blow after blow into gaps in Missouri’s defense, keeping runners on base and wearing down Harrison early in the game.

Harrison left the game after three innings, caught between inducing ground balls and giving the Wildcats all the hits they needed to make their system work. She threw 37 of her 54 pitches for strikes, a good average compared to her other outings, had four strikeouts on the ground and three in the air, and walked just one batter. Her two wild pitches, both in the first inning, were the result of failed bunt attempts flying off Crenshaw’s glove as the runner in the first tried to steal the second.

In Game 1 Sunday afternoon, Jordan Weber shut out the Wildcats for five straight innings, but left in the sixth after putting a few runners on base and then pulling out a leg return. She also finished with a strong stat line, recording 5.2 innings with a pair of earned runs on six hits and two walks.

However, those outings weren’t able to do the job for the Tigers as their offense stalled throughout and couldn’t provide any support for a relentless throwing performance.

Rally Killers

The Tigers’ success at home plate, more specifically their lack of bases, resulted from the relentless throwing of Stephanie Schoonover and a dismal performance with runners in scoring position.

Schoonover pitched 15.2 innings in three games over the weekend, allowing no runs on that streak while throwing 115 pitches on Friday and 151 on Sunday. She finished a shutout with two hits and two walks while striking out 15 in her opener, a comprehensive victory Friday afternoon that set the tone for the rest of the series. She threw 1.2 in the opener of Sunday’s doubleheader, then went the distance again in the series finale to complete her second full shutout.

Although Schoonover’s dominance shone in all three of her appearances, she had to pull herself out of multiple jams in Sunday’s second game.

The Tigers nearly broke through late in the second, walking three straight to charge the bases, only to Alex Honnold to stop at shortstop and leave their potential first run of the weekend stranded at third.

The Tigers left the bases loaded again late in the fourth, Honnold and Crenshaw pulled out and struck out to end the inning, then again in the sixth.

The final goal-scoring opportunity the Tigers had to close the gap came in the bottom of the seventh, when left fielder Wildcat vanessa nesby ran down a sharp fly ball from the bat of Jenna Laird to keep the Tigers at bay and end the game.

The Tigers left a total of 15 base runners stranded, going just 1-12 with runners in scoring position while going 7-28 overall.

They are now 16-9 overall. This week brings Illinois to Columbia for a double Tuesday before a road trip to Florida No. 4 over the weekend.

Leave a Comment