COLUMBIA — The Border War lives on.
After the Missouri softball team defeated Bradley 6-5 in the first round of the Columbia Regional on Friday, their next opponent was determined. Because Kansas had defeated Nebraska 3-1 earlier in the day, the Tigers would face the Jayhawks in their next game on Saturday.
But it took a different battle to get there.
In the bottom of the sixth inning in Missouri's game against Bradley, umpires, coaches and fans gathered around the dugout along the third base line. Missouri center fielder Taylor Gadbois had hit a foul ball over there, and when Bradley's third baseman Kendall Duffy went for the out, she crashed into the dugout's fence and broke it.
"It physically broke," Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said. "I mean, it snapped in three different places in the exact same place on every single pipe. I've never seen anything like it."
Before the crash, Missouri had been cruising. The Tigers were up 4-0 and on their way to a shutout.
But the fence damage acted as a turning point in the battle — after that, Bradley attacked.
In the top of the seventh, Missouri was still up 4-0 with two outs. It seemed like the game would be over quickly.
Instead, freshman Missouri pitcher Casey Stangel issued a walk, and then another. Junior Bradley first baseman Alyson Clemente smacked a homer to left center to score all three runs.
"I think that the walks were really what killed me in the seventh inning," Stangel said. "And I think that giving those away to them was bigger than the home run."
An RBI double and an RBI single then gave Bradley a 5-4 lead.
But the battle wasn't over. Junior Missouri shortstop Corrin Genovese led the rebuttal.
"I mean, you gotta love that kid," Bradley coach Amy Hayes said. "She's not a very big kid, but she's scrappy."
Genovese's double in the bottom of the seventh — her third double of the day — began the Tigers' fight back. Missouri loaded the bases, and a sacrifice fly by freshman Missouri catcher Kirsten Mack allowed Genovese to snag the tying run to send the game into an eighth inning.
Genovese commanded the team there, too, and knocked in the winning run with an RBI single as her teammates rounded the bases with their fists in the air.
Genovese went 4 for 4 in the win.
Although Missouri players say they're just trying to "survive and advance" no matter who they're playing, Saturday's game — the first in any sport to feature Missouri and Kansas since Missouri's switch to the Southeastern Conference in 2012 — does have meaning.
"Everybody that follows this program is gonna be watching the results," Earleywine said. "It's gonna be an uphill climb."
Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.