No. 18 Missouri softball battles back late, but No. 20 Georgia scores winning run to take series

The Tigers scored four seventh-inning runs to tie the game, but the Bulldogs answered with a walkoff single to win the game and the series.

For most of Sunday’s game, it didn’t look like No. 18 Missouri softball had much of a chance to win.

That changed in the seventh inning, when the Tigers scored four runs to tie the game, but No. 20 Georgia scored the winning run off of a poor throw to the plate by senior third baseman Kimberly Wert. The Bulldogs won 8-7 and took the series, 2-1.

The Tigers went up 2-0 in the first inning off of Wert’s two-run homer — her team-leading 10th of the season — that scored senior outfielder Brooke Wilmes, but Georgia put up a six-spot in the bottom of the third to make it a four-run Bulldogs lead.

And that’s where the difference stood for the rest of the game. Missouri got one back in the top of the fourth on a fielder’s choice that scored senior outfielder Imani Myint, but the Bulldogs answered in the bottom of the fifth with a run of their own.

Going into the top of the seventh — the Tigers’ last opportunity to tie or take the lead — it seemed as though a comeback and series-clinching win wasn’t in the cards. Missouri disagreed.

After a quick first out, the Tigers hit three singles in a row to bring it to within three runs. Then, following the second out, Missouri reached base four times in a row and pushed three more runs across the plate, enough to tie the game at seven. The Tigers batted around in the inning, a clutch performance so late in the game. Missouri hadn’t used small-ball too much this season to score runs, but it worked on Sunday.

But Georgia wasn’t about to let Missouri come out on top. In the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs got runners at second and third with just one out. The next batter, freshman outfielder Jayda Kearney, hit a grounder to the hot corner.

Wert fielded it cleanly and fired home in an attempt to nail the winning run at the plate, but her throw sailed over senior catcher Hatti Moore and the runner came home to score in walk-off fashion.

Wert’s throwing error was part of a bigger story. After 11 consecutive games without an error, the Tigers committed a season-high of three against Georgia. Two of those errors occurred in the seventh inning, and it cost them.

Freshman Jenna Laird had an outstanding game. The shortstop went 3-4 with two runs batted in. One of her hits and RBIs was in the seventh inning.

With the loss, Missouri drops to 20-6 on the year and 1-2 in the SEC. The Tigers take a brief break from SEC play with a doubleheader against Western Illinois on Wednesday, but get right back into conference play at home next weekend, hosting Auburn in a three-game series.

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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