‘That first win is huge:’ No. 18 Missouri softball snaps losing streak, wins both in doubleheader against Mississippi State

The Tigers got back on track against Mississippi State, bouncing back from three consecutive losses with solid pitching and strong batting.

A cloudy, chilly day met No. 18 Missouri and unranked Mississippi State with a slight, left-to-right breeze in Columbia for their doubleheader. Game 1 of the series was postponed due to rain, which meant that the Tigers and Bulldogs had to face off in a doubleheader.

Missouri won Game 1 5-2, and Game 2 finished 4-3 in favor of the Tigers, meaning that they clinched the series. Those wins snapped a three-game losing streak for Missouri, in which they dropped two to No. 16 LSU and one to Kansas.

“One of our main goals is always to try to win every single series, so it’s great that we won the series,” Missouri coach Larissa Anderson said. “That first win is huge, after we lost three — two to LSU and then Kansas on Tuesday — so getting back to feeling good and seeing the ball well and being able to capitalize in those situations, so that’s the momentum that we need.”

All five of Missouri’s runs in the first game came off four home runs, two of which were hit by freshman shortstop Jenna Laird. The other two came from redshirt junior outfielder Cassidy Chaumont and redshirt junior second baseman Kendyll Bailey. Four home runs is the second most the Tigers have hit in a single game this season, only behind the 20-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe, when they hit five.

Laird’s first shot came in the first inning, a two-run shot that just carried over the right field wall to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Her second was a lined shot over to center field to make it 3-0. Laird now has five home runs this season.

“I was seeing the ball really well, so I was thinking that I was going to be hopefully successful throughout the game,” Laird said. “As soon as I hit that first one over, I kind of just said ‘Okay, now this is going to be my game to do anything to help the team win.’”

Sophomore pitcher Jordan Weber held a perfect game for more than half the game. Carter Spexarth broke up the perfection bid with a walk, and a Paige Cook single, that was controversially ruled as not going over the wall for a home run, ended the no hitter. Weber pitched five innings, with three strikeouts and two earned runs. The win brought her record to 8-2 for the season.

“Pitching was outstanding today,” Anderson said. “Both Jordan [Weber] and Megan [Schumacher] threw outstanding games.”

Sophomore pitcher Megan Schumacher dominated the second game of the day, as she allowed only one hit until the seventh inning. Sophomore Emma Nichols replaced her after she conceded a three-run home run to Jackie McKenna.

“I felt great about this game,” Schumacher said. “I know my defense had my back and I knew that we’d come away with lots of hits and runs and just go about trusting our stuff.”

The Tigers picked up two runs in the first inning when Laird drove in Brooke Wilmes with a double and Chaumont drove in Laird with a single. The other two runs came from a home run from senior third baseman Kimberly Wert in the sixth inning.

“It was huge because we were putting up a lot of zeros up to that point,” Anderson said. “Kim really needed it. She’s been hitting some loud outs, she really hasn’t driven the ball the way she’s capable of driving, I think she’s chasing the ball out of the zone occasionally. It was really great to see that she was able to connect and give us another run on the board.”

The Tigers host Mississippi State again on Sunday, as they go for the sweep on Senior Day.

“Tomorrow’s a tough day,” Anderson said. “It’s a very emotional day, especially for our seniors… We’ve got a lot of stuff that’s going on before the game and then as soon as that first pitch is we got to be focused.”

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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