Missouri softball bounces back from shaky weekend to shut down Western Illinois

Laurin Krings put together a career outing with 10 strikeouts, while Brooke Wilmes went 4-4 with 6 RBIs in the first game.

Missouri softball picked up its 21st and 22nd wins on the season against Western Illinois, maintaining its perfect record at home in dominant fashion.

Both games had similar storylines: the Tigers plowed through the Leathernecks early in the game, then slowed down as their starters came out and the game went on.

The Tigers jumped to take advantage of a break from their top-tier SEC competition, with multiple career milestones for a couple of players.

Krings, Schumacher go the distance in respective shutouts

Freshman pitcher Laurin Krings improved from her less-than-ideal start against Georgia, striking out a career-high 10 batters on her way to a five-inning, two-hit shutout. Her fastball overpowered the Leathernecks, who struggled to catch up. Their lone solid hit came in the top of the second.

Control of the fastball again proved to be Krings’ struggle, as she got many of her outs late in the count. She still managed to mow down the Leatherneck hitters. She showed little fatigue, and her offense picked her up to keep her to only five innings of work.

Sophomore pitcher Megan Schumacher followed Krings’ performance with a seven-inning shutout of her own. She faced more pressure from Western Illinois as it adjusted to Missouri’s level of play, but managed to escape several jams thanks to solid Missouri defense and composed pitching.

In the sixth inning, with Missouri up 5-0, the Leathernecks made their best push of the day, loading the bases. Junior outfielder Ami Ill grounded the first pitch she saw just past Schumacher, but freshman shortstop Jenna Laird was there.

Charging into the ball, Laird swallowed the ball into her throwing motion and fired across the diamond. The ball skipped hard against the dirt into freshman first baseman Riley Frizell’s outstretched glove to throw out Ill.

The Tigers ended 12 innings of shutout softball with a combined 16 strikeouts.

Wilmes and Moore pace the offense

While the offense as a whole remained consistent, senior catcher Hatti Moore and senior center fielder Brooke Wilmes feasted off Leatherneck pitchers.

Wilmes controlled the first game, as she hit two doubles and the game-sealing home run in the bottom of the fifth.

With the bases loaded, Wilmes stepped to the plate with a chance to end the game. She worked the count to 3-0, and she got the green light to swing away. She drove a middle-in fastball high above the right-centerfield wall, and she rounded the bases as the Leathernecks left the field to prepare for the next game.

After her coup-de-grâs, Wilmes held 6 RBIs to her credit, more than half of the Tigers’ runs.

Moore hit three home runs over the course of the two games, moving into ninth place all-time on the Missouri softball home run list.

Her first blast came on an off-speed pitch that ballooned into the top of the zone and drifted into her wheelhouse. She ripped it down the left-field line, and every pitch became another opportunity.

Her next two bombs each came in the second game, both hit to right field on pitches on the outside edge of the plate.

Junior first baseman Emma Raabe added a three-run double in the bottom of the third inning, giving the three of them responsibility for 14 of the Tigers’ 16 runs.

Laird shows discomfort in the 2-hole

While the Tiger offense got going in the first game, Laird seemed to struggle in her new spot in the batting order.

Laird had one hit in six at-bats for the night, but her lone hit came on a bloop single to center field. She fell behind in the count often, and couldn’t manage to take advantage of her pitches as other hitters did.

Before Wednesday’s doubleheader, Laird led the team with a .427 batting average and two triples, along with 22 RBIs, almost all coming from her hitting in the bottom third of the lineup.

Likely testing new lineups for the future, coach Larissa Anderson shook up her lineup for the game against Western Illinois. She sat senior third baseman Kim Wert, as well as many of her starters as the games progressed.

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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