Missouri softball takes first game against Georgia but loses second after costly first inning

Tiger pitching staff veered from a stellar performance on Friday, throwing more pitchers and giving up more runs than they have in a game all season on Saturday.

Missouri’s pitching staff had two very different days. The Tigers dominated Georgia on Friday and the Bulldogs returned the favor on Saturday.

The Tigers won the first game 6-1 on the back of a solid pitching performance from sophomore Jordan Weber, but they lost control in the second game. Missouri gave up eight runs in the first inning and lost the game 14-10.

In the first inning of the second game, sophomore Laurin Krings walked the first two batters, which is always a bad sign. After two RBI singles up the middle, the Bulldogs revved up their offense.

Krings got the first out of the inning on a ground ball to second, but she proceeded to throw a flat pitch that stayed high in the zone. Sophomore right fielder Jaiden Fields crushed it past the center field wall to put the Bulldogs ahead 5-0.

Sophomore pitcher Megan Schumacher relieved Krings after Fields’ home run. Schumacher gave up only one home run in her previous 30 innings pitching, but the Bulldogs hit three more off of her in the inning to further extend the lead.

The Bulldogs maintained their offensive streak through a strategy the Tigers have used all year: wait for good pitches and capitalize when they come. Missouri’s pitchers struggled to throw strikes throughout the game, and when they failed to throw strikes, Georgia would score runs.

In the first game, Weber attacked the zone and forced the Bulldogs to work with her pitches. She walked just two batters and gave up her single run on a relatively harmless solo home run from junior shortstop Savana Sikes.

In the second game, Krings, Schumacher and the rest of their pitchers were tentative to attack the zone and let batters stay ahead in the count. Georgia got a runner on base in every single inning, while using singles and doubles to add baserunners for the middle of their lineup to drive in.

Freshman Emma Nichols did a capable job limiting the Bulldogs, keeping her pitches on the corners of the zone with enough movement to minimize the Georgia batters’ effectiveness.

But Missouri pressured Georgia for the entire game. They began a gritty comeback in the second inning, gradually chipping away at the Georgia lead one inning at a time. By the bottom of the fifth inning, Missouri was down by just three runs.

Poor baserunning and untimely hitting prevented Missouri from getting closer.

In the fourth inning with a runner on second, Missouri quickly hit two ground outs to set up only a two-run blast from senior third baseman Kimberley Wert. Missouri had no baserunners to maintain pressure, so the rally ended there.

After reaching on an error in the fifth inning and driving in two runs, senior catcher Hatti Moore attempted to advance to third but was thrown out. The Tigers had scored four runs already and had junior first baseman Emma Raabe on deck, who had hit a home run two innings before.

There were two constants in the games; Georgia’s lack of fielding and the heart of Missouri’s order failing to hit. They committed 10 errors over the course of both games, and just three of Missouri’s 15 runs were earned. Their fielding errors gave Missouri the game on Friday as their offense failed to get anything started.

On Saturday, however, Missouri’s struggles from the heart of the order prevented it from capitalizing on the Bulldog’s mistakes. The 2-5 hitters finished games hitting just .133 with 5 RBIs.

The Georgia game plan stayed consistent through both games, keeping pitches high and in above the hands to make sure Wert, Raabe and Moore couldn’t turn on any pitches. This strategy remained effective except when the pitch went below the hands, when the three would hit their home runs for the weekend.

Missouri plays its third and final game of the series Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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