By: Kelsie Heneghan
No. 9 Missouri softball began Saturday with a lead and ended it with a lead, but in between, Mizzou was far from being on top against Texas Tech. The Red Raiders took Game 1 of the doubleheader today 5-4, but the Tigers came back in Game 2 with a 4-1 win in eight innings.
“It was a rough day, rough weekend,” Nicole Hudson said. “To get that win, it was big. It was nice to end it on a positive note.”
In the bottom of the first in Game 1, Jenna Marston walked and then scored on an Ashley Fleming double to left center. A single by Hudson would move Fleming to third, but only for a moment, as Fleming was able to score on the following play when Hudson stole second base. Red Raider catcher Holly Gentsch’s errant throw to second gave Mizzou the 2-0 lead.
The Red Raiders would respond with five runs in the next two innings, taking a 5-2 lead with them through the fourth. Mizzou came back with two more runs in the bottom of the fifth on a homerun by Fleming to score Marston, but it would not be enough as Texas Tech held off all Mizzou offense in the sixth and seventh innings.
After the last out, it was soon decided to move up Sunday’s game to avoid any rain, so the Tigers had 20 minutes to figure out what they needed to fix.
“We just tried to refocus and do what we came out here to do and that was win,” Mackenzie Sykes said.
A win was looking less and less likely with the Red Raiders taking a 1-0 lead into the sixth inning, but the Tigers weren’t ready to give up. To lead off the bottom of the sixth, Hudson belted her sixth home run of the season and tied the game at one.
“I haven’t hit a ball that well in a while,” Hudson said. “I’m just not where I want to be right now, I feel better after today, I think with a lot of our hitters, we’re just not where we want to be and mechanical issues, but I feel like I’m getting closer after today.”
A quiet seventh would take the game into extras, but the Tigers didn’t waste anytime getting on base. Marston led off with a walk and Fleming followed with a single, moving pinch runner Kayla Kingsley to second. After a fly out by Hudson, Mackenzie Sykes stepped up to the plate.
“I was just trying to get a ball over the plate and take it the other way and hopefully move the runners,” Sykes said.
On a 2-0 pitch, Sykes did just that, crushing the ball over the right field wall for the walk-off home run.
“It was a great feeling just the fact that we won the game, I know any girl in that lineup could’ve done that and it was just a great feeling, knowing that we won,” Sykes said.
Chelsea Thomas pitched all eight innings allowing just two hits with 11 strikeouts, working around the three Tiger errors.
“After an error is made, I feel like my job is to pick that person up and that makes me want to strike out the next person even more,” Thomas said.
Two of those errors came from shortstop Princess Krebs, who did not play in the first game of the day.
“She’s just having a tough time right now, and hitting .200. If she was squashing it, you’d leave her in there, maybe, but she’s having a tough time,” coach Ehren Earleywine said.
But Krebs isn’t the only one having a tough time.
“I think this week a lot of us are probably going to do a lot of individual work, coming in before practice, staying after practice, just doing what we have to do individually to get ourselves to where we can hit the ball,” Hudson said. “I think right now, we just all around, everybody individually, needs to get better.”
The Tigers have three days to improve before Western Illinois comes to town on Wednesday; first pitch is set for 4 p.m.