On the second day of the NFCA Leadoff Classic, Missouri softball’s offense came alive.
MU improved to 4-0 with wins over Baylor and No. 8 Minnesota.
Missouri beat Baylor 9-1 to kick off the day.
Jazmyn Rollin began the Tigers’ offensive onslaught with a first inning solo home run to left center. The Tigers roughed up Baylor’s Gia Rodoni, scoring three runs off of her in two innings. Two of those came in the second when Kendyll Bailey and Emma Raabe hit back-to-back home runs and forced Baylor to go to the bullpen early.
Freshman Emma Nichols got her first collegiate start for the Tigers. She impressed early on with two strikeouts in the first. She continued to show her velocity and strong command, striking out six batters in five innings.
The only adversity she faced was in the third inning when Baylor was able to load the bases. However, Nichols answered by forcing a ground out to end the inning and get out of the jam.
Missouri continued slugging as Baylor searched for answers in the bullpen. The Tigers were able to string together hits off Baylor reliever Aliyah Pritchett, loading the bases in the fourth inning. Cayla Kessinger came up and smashed an opposite field grand slam to give the Tigers an 8-1 lead.
Kessinger looks to have a bounce back season after missing all of 2019 due to injury. Brooke Wilmes finished the game off with an RBI single up the middle, giving the Tigers the win by run-rule.
Nichols got the complete game win as she gave up only one run in five innings, helping Missouri defeat Baylor 9-1 for its first run-rule victory against a Power-5 opponent since April 2019 against Texas A&M.
Missouri had an upset win over No. 8 Minnesota in its second matchup Saturday.
The Tigers came out aggressive in the first inning, working counts in their favor. Kimberly Wert took the second pitch she saw and knocked it over the second baseman’s head and into the gap, scoring Rollin. Hatti Moore drove in Wert with a two-run home run after working the count to 2-2. The Tigers totaled three hits and three runs in the first inning.
Freshman Jordan Weber got her second start of the season after getting the win Friday against Notre Dame.
Weber continued her dominance from Friday early on, striking out multiple batters and pitching a scoreless inning to start the game. However, she missed over the plate on a pitch that Minnesota was able to capitalize on.
The Golden Gophers’ MaKenna Partain drilled the pitch down the line for a triple that scored two runs. This was Weber’s only blemish as she was able to strand Partain on third base by striking out the next batter. Weber showed confidence in her short two-inning stint, attacking Minnesota batters early in the count with her fastball.
Megan Schumacher pitched a gem in relief, throwing over 60 pitches. She dominated Minnesota batters, giving up zero runs in her first four innings while striking out six batters. The Tigers’ lineup also gave Schumacher some run support in the seventh with a Moore solo home run that increased the MU lead to 4-2.
After struggling to reach base against Schumacher, Minnesota rallied in the seventh inning as she began to tire. The Golden Gophers were able to get two hits off Schumacher to begin the seventh.
Eli Daniel came into the game inheriting runners on the corners. Daniel struck out the first batter on a high 2-2 pitch, continuing her high strikeout rate during the tournament. However, she left a pitch over the middle during the next at-bat that drove in two runs for Minnesota, tying the game at four.
With two runners in scoring position and only one out, Daniel rebounded impressively. She struck out the next two batters and showed why she is one of the best relievers in the SEC.
In extra innings, both teams by rule began the eighth with a runner on second. Missouri capitalized first off a Kessinger two-RBI double. Kessinger later came around and scored on a passed ball. Daniel returned for the bottom half of the inning looking to record her first win of the season.
The righty was able to freeze two Minnesota righties, striking out both and getting the final batter to groundout to second to close out a 7-4 win.
The win over Minnesota was the Tigers’ first against a top 10 opponent since defeating ninth-ranked South Carolina twice in 2019.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” MU head coach Larissa Anderson said in a press release. “They showed today how much fight they truly have inside of them. Our freshmen pitchers are getting unbelievable experience in this environment that will prepare them for not only the rest of the year but the rest of their careers. We’re getting tremendous leadership from our upperclassmen. That takes the pressure off a young pitching staff that thinks they have to do it all.”
The Tigers will wrap up play as they take on Louisville at 9 a.m. Sunday in the NFCA Leadoff Classic.