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Missouri softball splits twinbill with No. 5 Tennessee

Missouri softball splits twinbill with No. 5 Tennessee

April 1st, 2019 by Colin O'Brien in Mizzou Sports

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri softball head coach Larissa Anderson got the first win against a top 5 opponent of her head-coaching career Sunday as Missouri split a doubleheader against No. 5 Tennessee.

The Tigers (17-13, 6-5 Southeastern Conference) won the first game 5-4, while the Volunteers (27-6, 5-3) took the nightcap 2-1.

Missouri scored first in both games.

"It's great," Anderson said Sunday. "They're competing, and it's just one of those things that, we're putting a lot of good things together. I'm seeing a lot of good things out of this team, we still have room for improvement, but we're getting better every single day."

Tennessee gave up more than three runs for just the sixth time all season and has the conference's second-best staff ERA entering the weekend at 1.86, a hundredth of a point behind Florida. The Volunteers have given up 51 earned runs in 191 innings this season.

Missouri came out swinging in the first game. Brooke Wilmes started things with a leadoff triple, followed by a Regan Nash walk and stolen base and a Jazmyn Rollin RBI single. This prompted a pitching change as starter Ashley Rogers was pulled without recording an out, replaced by Matty Moss. Nash then scored on a wild pitch, and Geana Torres sent Rollin home with an RBI groundout.

"We're a very good hitting team, and when we make them bring the ball into the zone, then we're going to crush it," Wilmes said. "During the first game, that's what we did, and we were able to put up runs from it."

In the second inning, Kendyll Bailey drew a one-out walk, and then courtesy runner Danie Garrison stole second and went to third on an error. Wilmes, who finished the first game 2-for-3 with a walk, drove Garrison home with a single and gave the Tigers a 4-0 lead. Kim Wert sent her 11th home run of the season onto the berm in left-center in the fifth inning to round out the offense.

Madi Norman (8-5) threw 5 innings and allowed two earned runs on six hits and three walks while striking out five to earn the win. Her drop ball was crisp, and Norman allowed just one extra-base hit and no fly outs.

"At times it was pretty nasty," Anderson said of Norman's drop ball. "She gets those swings and misses and it rolls off the table, that's tough to hit, it doesn't matter who she's facing."

After Norman gave up a hit-by-pitch and two infield singles in the top of the 6th inning and then walked the bases full with two out, Eli Daniel came on in relief and threw 1 hitless innings with a walk and a strikeout to pick up her second save of the season.

Missouri's offense stalled in the second game. Anderson and Wilmes both said the Tigers were impatient at the plate and swung at pitches out of the zone, which they weren't doing in the first game. Rogers, who came back to start the second game, allowed just one hit — a solo home run off the bat of catcher Hatti Moore in the fourth — and struck out four. Rogers issued three walks.

The loss snapped Missouri's six-game conference winning streak.

Cassie Gasper threw six strong innings but walked four batters and gave up five hits. A leadoff single in the sixth inning and a leadoff walk in the seventh both scored with two outs. Daniel came on in the seventh to try and hold the tie and got a sacrifice bunt and a popup to Moore before Chelsea Seggern doubled in the winning run.

Nash reached on a leadoff walk in the seventh and stole second, but Missouri was unable to get the ball out of the infield to advance her.

The series finale is at 6 p.m. today (SEC Network-TV).