Sarah Stringer shifted into trot mode as she rounded second base.
Missouri’s sophomore second baseman had just hit the ball over the left center-field fence for what should have been her first collegiate home run.
Everything, even the dramatics, seemed in order for the feat, which came in the eighth inning of the Tigers’ 5-4 win Sunday at University Field, completing a two-game sweep of No. 5 Texas A&M.
An inning earlier, Stringer had come to bat with her team trailing by two runs. Runners stood on first and second with no outs.
It was a given that Missouri’s No. 9 hitter was going to try to sacrifice in that situation.
“I’ve never really been a power hitter over the fence,” Stringer said.
But her bunt attempt went awry. Stringer popped up to second base.
The transgression was forgotten one batter later when the runners moved up on a wild pitch by Aggies right-hander Jill Weynand (8-2).
Missouri capitalized and forced extra innings. Leanne Bowers hit a sacrifice fly and Janessa Roening tied the game with a single, pumping her fist and pointing to her exulting teammates as she stood on first base.
Stringer’s winner came the next inning on a 1-1 pitch that a fierce wind helped over the wall.
There was bedlam in the stands as the crowd of 432 screamed and applauded the win against the Big 12 Conference regular season champions.
The celebration was ongoing on the field as well. Missouri third baseman Kendra Power, who had reached on a walk, was so happy that she forgot to score.
Power got as far as third base, but then ran back to congratulate Stringer when she saw the ball go over the fence.
Power mobbed her teammate, hugging and jumping at the same time.
“We were both pretty excited and kind of let our emotions play,” Stringer said.
Lucky for Missouri that lead runner Heather Kunkel had come around to score the winning run. Power was ruled out because she had interfered with Stringer’s progress.
Because she had last touched second base before the interference, Stringer was awarded a double. She lost the home run and two RBIs in the process.
“It was so loud, I couldn’t yell at Kendra loud enough to get her to keep running,” Missouri coach Ty Singleton said.
After the game, Stringer laughed at the suggestion that Power make up for nullifying her statistics.
“It’s OK, we won it,” Stringer said. “That’s all that matters.”
Each will pay for her own dinner the next time they go out.
“They do such a good job of being team-minded that I don’t think it will be a big issue,” Singleton said.
Things were grim for the No. 19 Tigers (36-10, 8-7 Big 12) in the early going. They had been held to one hit in the first four innings. Twice the Aggies failed to score after collecting three hits in an inning.
Missouri’s pitching and defense kept Texas A&M (42-6, 13-4) from scoring again after building a 4-0 lead after two innings.
Erin Kalka (6-5) earned the win in relief, striking out four in three innings.
Missouri travels to Kansas on Wednesday before closing out the regular season at home next weekend in a two-game series with Nebraska.
Roening said the team’s objective entering this series was to win out in conference.
“Our goal of winning five and going out strong is…within our hands,” Roening said. “We can do it.”