Once again, Jordan Weber proved herself to be a big-game pitcher.
Weber carried seventh-seeded Missouri to a 1-0 win over 10th-seeded Auburn with a shutout in the first round of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday in Gainesville, Florida.
Weber starred in Missouri’s 2021 postseason run. She allowed four earned runs in 31 innings and no-hit Iowa State in regionals.
Wednesday’s performance against Auburn may be the start of another dazzling stretch. Working with no margin for error, Weber allowed four hits and walked three over seven scoreless innings.
“I don’t know, might be the warmer weather kinda excites me a little bit,” Weber said. “But I think our team gets better as the season goes on in all aspects, and I think that once we all come together and we start playing truly as a team is when really good things start to happen.”
Missouri’s defense played a significant role in the shutout. Weber ran into trouble after walking the first two batters in the top of the second inning. Back-to-back bunts then loaded the bases with one out for Carlee McCondichie, who pulled a line drive to right field. Alex Honnold moved in to make the catch and delivered a strike to catcher Hatti Moore, nabbing the runner at the plate for a double play.
Weber regularly worked around pressure. Auburn put its leadoff hitter on base in four of seven innings. After working a leadoff walk in the fifth, Auburn failed to capitalize, popping out on a bunt attempt before Weber retired the next two batters on a groundout and a flyout. After a leadoff single in the sixth, Auburn successfully moved its runner to second base with a bunt, but Weber struck out the next two batters to end the frame.
Auburn starter Maddie Penta went head-to-head with Weber. Penta threw 134 pitches over six innings. She walked six batters, struggling with control at times, but tallied 11 strikeouts and held Missouri to three hits.
Missouri produced the only run of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Emma Raabe reached on a four-pitch walk and advanced to second on a passed ball, prompting coach Larissa Anderson to pinch run Maddie Snider for Raabe. With two outs, Jenna Laird drove a 1-2 pitch to the opposite field for an RBI double.
“It’s not how many hits you get, it’s when you get them, and Jenna really came through in the right spot — in the right situation — to be able to capitalize with that runner in scoring position and that’s really all we needed,” Anderson said.
Weber closed the game with her only clean inning of the day. Her eighth strikeout ended the game and advanced Missouri to the quarterfinal, where it matches up with second-seeded Alabama.
“The great thing about playoffs is you don’t have to motivate your team,” Anderson said. “The atmosphere (and) what’s at stake motivates them, and then obviously coming off of a conference series last weekend so recent against Alabama, we know what we need to do, we know what we’re capable of doing, so that’s motivation enough.”