COLUMBIA — Another day, another dramatic win.
Missouri secured a series win and a winning record in conference play in Larissa Anderson's first season Saturday with a 7-6 walk-off win in eight innings against No. 16 South Carolina at Mizzou Softball Stadium.
The Tigers (32-21, 12-10 Southeastern Conference) did it this time courtesy of a Brooke Wilmes solo home run, her fifth of the season, off of Cayla Drotar. Madi Norman threw four innings of scoreless relief to pick up her 17th win of the season.
"I knew that she was going to pitch me drop balls outside, that's what she did all the time to me (Friday)," Wilmes said. "But today, I think I really saw it come out of her hand and I put a really good swing on it, and it just so happened to go out."
Wilmes hit 4-for-5 on the day, while Kim Wert and Kolby Romaine were each 2-for-4, and after Missouri saw both Drotar and Dixie Raley on Friday, the two combined for just one strikeout Saturday against Missouri.
Missouri trailed 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning but Wilmes led off the home half of the first with a single, Regan Nash reached on an error after laying down a bunt, and freshman Jazmyn Rollin blasted her 10th home run of the season to right-center to put the Tigers back in the lead.
The team has hit 59 home runs this season with at least two more games remaining, the most since the 2016 squad hit 73 and went to an NCAA Super Regional in Ann Arbor, Mich. Part of that is attributable to hitting coach Chris Malveaux, about whom hitters rave, but also to a talented and confident group of hitters.
Rollin is one clear example of this.
"My first day on campus, I walked into coach's office and said 'I want to be SEC Freshman of the Year,' and she was like, 'OK, let's make you into one," said Rollin, who is hitting .347 with 40 runs, 37 RBI and is 15-of-18 on stolen base attempts this year.
Rollin was named one of 25 finalists for National Fastpich Coaches Association Player of the Year in April, and was SEC Freshman of the Week in February after Missouri swept Kentucky on the road. The NFCA list will be narrowed to 10 finalists this Friday.
"She's a game-changer," Anderson said of her starting shortstop. "She's one of those players that has such unbelievable energy, that she has the ability to completely change the game. She has so much speed, she can steal a base at will. She's completely on her own offensively, running the bases, I mean, I just let her go play. She can drop a bunt and beat it out, and obviously she can hit the ball a long way."
Anderson pulled starter Cassie Gasper after an inning of work. Gasper started a 1-2-5 double play to get out of the first inning with the bases loaded, but gave up a tying home run to lead off the second and was replaced by Eli Daniel. Daniel pitched through the fourth inning, in which South Carolina tagged her for three runs, but Nash hit a two-run double with two out to make it 6-5 Gamecocks. Anderson immediately told Norman to get ready to pitch.
"My mindset was to keep my team in the game," Norman, who entered in the fifth, said. "Obviously pitching a whole game yesterday, it's hard to be as sharp as you can, but I just knew I was going to go out, make the pitches I needed to, and induce ground balls."
After the game Anderson said she expects Norman, who has thrown 11 innings so far this weekend, to start today's 12:30 p.m. finale as Missouri tries for its third conference sweep.