LOS ANGELES — After more than a decade of waiting, the Missouri softball team is heading back to the Women's College World Series.
Redshirt junior Gina Schneider hit a fifth inning walk-off home run to propel Missouri to a 9-1 win against No. 2 UCLA on Sunday afternoon at Easton Field in Los Angeles. With the win, the Tigers overcame their loss from earlier in the day and captured the best-of-three NCAA Super Regional title.
“When I came here three years ago this is what I wanted," Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said. "It was great to watch the team come together over the course of the year, and play their best softball at the right time."
The Tigers opened the game by sending nine batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring three runs. Senior first baseman Lindsey Ubrun led the way for Missouri. Ubrun put the Tigers on the scoreboard with a two-run double to left field in the first inning. Her success continued in the second inning with another RBI as the Tigers posted two more runs to take a 5-0 lead.
The highlight of the day for Ubrun came in fourth inning when she blasted a three-run homer to right field off UCLA junior pitcher Whitney Baker to give the Tigers a comfortable 8-1 lead.
“In the second game, we just swung at strikes. I felt like we helped the other pitcher out in game one (of the day) and it cost us,” said Ubrun.
Missouri senior Stacy Delaney quieted the Bruin bats going six innings and allowing one run.
“I was impressed with Lindsey’s performance. To pitch that well with such a small strike zone on the road against UCLA is impressive,” said Earlywine.
UCLA never trailed in the first game of the afternoon, winning 5-2. The Bruins onslaught began in the top of the second inning when sophomore shortstop Monica Harrison dropped down a sacrifice bunt that scored senior second baseman Amanda Kamekona from third base for a 1-0 lead. Three innings later in the top of the fifth the Bruins exploded with a three-run inning, capped by a two-run home run for junior catcher Kaila Shull.
“We looked at the tape from last night and we made some adjustments. Last night we just swung at too many bad pitches,” said UCLA coach Kelly Inouye-Perez.
Unlike Saturday night the Tiger defense struggled to provide support for Chelsea Thomas in the first game Sunday, making three errors, which the Bruins capitalized on.
“We faltered on defense. If we had just played catch and not committed so many errors we could have taken game one,” said Earlywine.
Before this weekends series the Tigers were 0-10 all time against UCLA. The Missouri series victory marks the first time in UCLA history that the Bruins failed to win a super regional series. It also marks the first time this season that the Bruins lost by run rule.
The trip to Oklahoma City, Okla., will mark the fourth time in the 34 year history of the Missouri softball program. The Tiger last appearance came in 1994.
Missouri will take on Arizona State at 2 p.m. Thursday. The game will be televised on ESPN.