CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Missouri softball team started the season with a 5-0 record at the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Leadoff Classic outside of Tampa.
The peak of the tournament came Saturday, as the Tigers started the day with a run-rule 9-1 win against Baylor, then beat No. 7 Minnesota 7-4 in eight innings.
Missouri beat Notre Dame 3-1 and South Alabama 7-5 on Friday, and closed tournament play with a 5-1 win against Louisville on Sunday morning.
The Tigers hit nine home runs in five games, including three from catcher Hatti Moore. She homered twice in the win against Minnesota, once off of Amber Fiser, an All-American and one of the core roster pieces who helped the Gophers made the Women's College World Series a year ago. The Tigers gave up a two-run lead in the bottom of the seventh inning but scored three in the top of the eighth and shut down Minnesota in the bottom of the frame to earn the win.
Missouri held a 4-1 lead against Baylor in the fourth inning after solo home runs from Jazmyn Rollin, Kendyll Bailey and Emma Raabe before Cayla Kessinger hit a grand slam in her third game back in college softball after missing all of the 2019 season with an injury. Kessinger also delivered a two-run double to put her team ahead in extra innings against the Gophers.
The Tigers scored first in each of their five games, and held a 4-1 lead against South Alabama after four innings before the Jaguars plated four unanswered runs to take a 5-4 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning. Rollin, who opened the game with an RBI triple, crushed a two-run homer to right-center to give Missouri the lead back and Kim Wert followed with a solo shot to provide an insurance run.
Rollin was named to the all-tournament team Sunday.
Reliever pitcher Eli Daniel picked up where she left off at the end of last season and earned saves against Notre Dame and South Alabama, picked up the win against Minnesota and threw the final inning against Louisville. In five innings, she faced 18 batters and struck out 11 while allowing two hits.
The Tigers gave 26 out of a total 34 innings to freshman pitchers.
Jordan Weber went 1-0 in two starts, with six strikeouts, two walks, five hits and an earned run in six innings against the Fighting Irish and two strikeouts, two walks, three hits and two earned runs in two innings in a no-decision against the Gophers.
Megan Schumacher went 1-0 in two starts, striking out five in five innings against the Cardinals with a walk, six hits and an earned run. She did not earn a decision against South Alabama, tossing 4 innings and allowing five hits, four runs and two earned runs with two strikeouts, and threw four innings of middle relief against Minnesota, giving up five hits and two earned runs while striking out five.
Emma Nichols got the lighter end of the work, throwing five one-run innings against Baylor for her first collegiate win. She struck out six and walked none on seven hits.
Missouri is back in Florida this coming weekend for the ESPN St. Pete/Clearwater Invitational. The Tigers start with a game against Kansas at noon Thursday, which will be televised on ESPNU. On Friday, Missouri faces Liberty at 1:30 p.m. and No. 13 Oklahoma State at 4:30 p.m. The Tigers will play Virginia Tech at noon Saturday, followed by No. 20 James Madison at 5 p.m., and close with a rematch against Minnesota at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.