COLUMBIA — In a game with seven home runs, things started with a bang.
But not the way you might think.
After the second pitch of the game featuring No. 16 Missouri and No. 13 Georgia, the Bulldogs' Anna Swafford rounded the bases. The fans, though, weren't looking at home plate as she crossed.
They were looking to right field where Missouri sophomore Emily Crane was on the ground.
Swafford's hit — the first homer of the game — never made it over the wall. Instead, both Crane and sophomore outfielder Taylor Gadbois went to catch it and both missed, rendering it an inside-the-park home run. In the process, the outfielders collided.
"I think what happened is Taylor knocked her foot out from under her," Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said.
She finished the top of the first inning in the outfield, but Crane then sat out the rest of the game. The injury has "something to do with her MCL," and she'll get an MRI tonight, Earleywine said.
Crane's absense left Missouri without one of its best players against a team at the plate with six players with five or more home runs this season.
"We've never started a game like that," Missouri junior infielder Corrin Genovese said. "It kinda killed us a little bit. You know, she's one of our leaders as well."
The game of home runs continued without Crane. Georgia smacked a solo shot to right field in the first inning and another in the sixth.
The Tigers struggled at first after Crane went down, getting three quick outs in both the bottom of the first and second innings.
Things changed in the third.
Genovese stepped to the plate. After several foul balls, Earleywine told her to adjust to the pitch.
And with that, Genovese added a Missouri home run.
This seemed to give the team the lift it needed. Sophomore shortstop Sami Fagan and junior first baseman Kelsea Roth each also homered for the Tigers in the third inning.
As the Missouri ran out of the dugout to celebrate each homer, Crane sat in the dugout with ice on her leg.
"I definitely think that we pulled together and just were determined to do it for her," Fagan said.
The momentum carried the Tigers all the way through their lineup that inning, and Genovese stepped to the plate again.
The crowd stood as the ball soared over the left-field wall — again.
Genovese just laughed.
The inning gave Missouri its only eight runs of the game, but that was enough. They defeated the Bulldogs 8-6 in Game 1 of the series.
With her arms around Gadbois' shoulders, Crane limped onto the field after the game to celebrate the win.
The game of home runs ended quietly.
But it started the series off with a bang.
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.