COLUMBIA — In the bottom of the fourth inning in No. 15 Missouri softball's game against Missouri State on Wednesday, junior Angela Randazzo blasted the ball along the right field line. After already hitting three foul balls at-bat, this one hugged the line and landed just inside for a triple.
"All I was thinking was just run," Randazzo said of her hit.
That just-fair ball marked a kind of turning point in the game for the Tigers. In what should have been an easy win for Missouri, the Tigers took longer than expected to get on board and propel themselves into this weekend's series against No. 3 Florida.
Missouri kept things loose before the game. Sophomores Sarah Moore and Carlie Rose and junior Kelsea Roth bobbled a ball around in the outfield, hitting it up with their gloves to try to keep it from hitting the ground. In the dugout, freshman Casey Stangel and senior Alora Marble practiced a handshake, laughing when they messed up.
The relaxed atmosphere was understandable. Missouri was coming off a series sweep of Southeastern Conference opponent Ole Miss. Missouri State is unranked, and the last time Missouri lost to the Bears was back in 2006.
But while a 5-0 shutout might seem acceptable, it took a few innings for the Tigers to get going.
"I thought we were off to a slow start," junior Corrin Genovese said. "I think we're kind of letting this point of the season get to us a little bit. We gotta work past our little aches and pains and stuff."
Genovese was responsible for Missouri's sole two hits in the first three innings.
"Today was just kinda OK," Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said. "It didn't wow me."
But after Randazzo's triple, things started picking up. Right after that, Roth executed a squeeze bunt to bring Randazzo home from third.
"The guys I played with, sometimes, they'd intentionally miss that," Earleywine said. "It's just like, 'You're really giving me the squeeze here in a midweek game?'" But he appreciated Roth's effort.
Randazzo followed up on her triple with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth. Her powerful hitting, combined with freshman Tori Finucane's strong pitching performance provided a boost of confidence before the team's series against Florida this weekend.
"I think it's definitely a plus that we come off a game like that," Randazzo said.