No. 15 Missouri softball allows five-run inning in 5-2 loss to No. 3 Florida

The Tigers held a 2-0 lead going into the inning but dropped the game 5-2.

No. 15 Missouri hosted No. 3 Florida on a hot, cloudless evening in Columbia in Game 1 of a series of two teams aiming for the SEC regular season title.

The two pitchers were the main players in the game. Missouri’s sophomore Jordan Weber pitched 5.2 innings and allowed two hits, five strikeouts and three earned runs. Florida’s junior Elizabeth Hightower pitched six innings with three strikeouts and two earned runs.

Still, Missouri controlled most of the game. Senior designated player Cayla Kessinger’s second inning two-run home run — her 10th of the season — gave the Tigers an early lead.

“She’s one that we really need,” Missouri coach Larissa Anderson said. “It was great that she was able to have such a quality at bat that she did. … She’s someone we’re really going to rely on.”

The Tigers ran into problems in the top of the sixth inning. Sophomore Emma Nichols replaced Weber with the bases loaded. Freshman Emily Wilkie drove in two runs with a single to tie the game. Fifth-year Jaimie Hoover hit a three-run home run to give the Gators a 5-2 lead that they kept for the rest of the game.

“My heart breaks for Emma Nichols,” Anderson said. “She’s been outstanding all year long and leads the country in saves and I just feel for her. She’s gonna feel the weight of the game on her shoulders.”

Missouri hosts Florida again Saturday and Sunday. The Tigers close out the regular season in Knoxville, Tennessee, against the Volunteers before heading to Alabama for the SEC Tournament.

“This is what we’re going to have for the rest of the season,” Anderson said. “We have Florida for the rest of this weekend and Tennessee’s an outstanding team. We’re going to face the same competition going into the SEC Tournament.”

Edited by Kyle Pinnell | kpinnell@themaneater.com

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