The first NCAA Tournament Regional in Mizzou Softball Stadium history forced Tiger fans to wait a little longer than anticipated, but that wait proved to be well worth it. It rained throughout the day in Columbia, pushing the start time back to 8:30 P.M, but it cleared up just in time, providing a nice sunset in front of a packed crowd.
The Tigers first opponent was the Illinois-Chicago Flames, a team that knocked them out of the NCAA Tournament in 2017. This year would be a different story as Mizzou dominated the Flames in six innings with an 8-0 victory. Mizzou will play Northern Iowa, which beat Iowa State in the first game of the regional, on Saturday.
The home team energized the crowd early in the bottom of the 1st inning as leadoff hitter Brooke Wilmes smashed her ninth home run into right field putting the Tigers up early. Later in the inning an RBI single by Cayla Kessinger extended the lead to 2-0.
“It was a really good way to set the tone for the game,” said teammate Hatti Moore of Wilmes’ home run.
Mizzou added three more runs in the bottom of the third inning. An RBI single by Kimberly Wert added Mizzou’s started the scoring. The next batter, Kessinger, singled to score Wert and then the play turned into a little league highlight. Kessing advanced on the throw home and then a throwing error to third allowed her to come home all the way around, making it a 5-0 game. This ended Flames pitcher Marley Hanlon’s night as she was replaced by Christina Toniolo.
Jordan Weber (11-5) cooled the Flames offense by keeping them off the board in the Tigers shutout victory, giving up just one hit.
“She just came out and dominated and she gave us and opportunity to win,” head coach Larrissa Anderson said.
Weber who pitched a complete game against LSU in the SEC tournament, pitched six complete innings against the Flames, striking out seven.
Hattie Moore, who had singled in a run in the 4th, ended it in the bottom 6th with a two-run single to enforce the run rule.
“It was really fun, just seeing the crowd and my teammates super pumped after the game, I mean it was awesome,” said Moore who finished 4-4 with 3 RBI’s.
Northern Iowa also dominated their first game defeating Iowa State 8-0 prior to Mizzou’s game.
“We have to have more energy than them and we have to quiet them down,” Anderson said. “We have to put ourselves in a position that they don’t think that they have an opportunity to win.”
The Tigers will take on the Panthers at 1:00 p.m.