By Karl Roskamp
Even soggy conditions couldn’t stop the red-hot bats of No. 6 Missouri (20-2, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) as the Tigers swept the South Carolina Gamecocks (18-14, 1-8 SEC) in a doubleheader at University Field on Saturday evening.
“We’re doing what you’re supposed to do when you face that caliber of pitching,” coach Ehren Earleywine said. “We’re scoring a lot of runs and I’m proud of the girls for that.”
In the first game, Missouri had 10 hits and three home runs en route to a 12-3 victory. Sophomore Angela Randazzo started a career day with a three-run home run in the third inning and a two-run home run in fourth inning to stretch the lead to 10-3. In her last five games, Randazzo is batting 7-10, which may reflect her extra effort off the field.
“Angie’s on fire. I give that girl props,” sophomore Corrin Genovese said. “She’s in here early working and stays late and she’s very determined and it’s showing obviously in her batting average.”
Even Genovese got in on the home run action with a two-run blast into the left field bleachers. It was just her second home run of the season, which made the score 3-0.
“I’m not a home run hitter,” Genovese said. “Everyone is just getting on base and the power hitters are bringing in the runs.”
The performance wasn’t without blemishes though. Second basemen Emily Crane had two errors in the first game. Crane’s second error came on a dropped force out to second. Compounded by a Randazzo error on the next play, South Carolina was able to score three runs off Lindsey Muller, who had taken over for Chelsea Thomas with an 8-0 lead.
“I got mad at the infielders at the end of the game,” Earleywine said. “I feel like Lindsey got six or seven outs in that inning and we kept throwing the ball around and those kind of things will cost you in a game against an Alabama or a Tennessee.”
Thomas returned after Muller allowed the third run and struck out Codee Yeskee on a full count to end the inning. Thomas finished with 3.1 innings pitched, one hit allowed and four strikeouts despite a sore finger. Senior Nicole Hudson closed the final inning after allowing one hit and one walk.
In the second game, the Tigers scored six runs in the first inning to win easily 8-0. The win was the team’s 10th in a row and its sixth consecutive run rule game.
Randazzo continued her hot hitting, going 2-3 with four RBIs. Her two-run home run in the first inning extended Missouri’s lead to 3-0 and her two-run double made it 8-0 in the third. Randazzo doubled her season total for home runs in a single day, something that rates high amongst her career achievements.
“In my book, this ranks pretty high,” Randazzo said. “I’d never done that before. I’ve had two home runs in a game, but never three in two games.”
“She wants to start bad and the message to her at the start of the year was that you need to do something extraordinary to get into this line up,” Earleywine said. “She’s doing extraordinary right now.”
Randazzo finished 4-6 with three home runs and nine RBIs in the doubleheader. Chelsea Thomas pitched all five innings of the second game, struck out eight, walked three and allowed four hits. She improved her record to 12-1 on the season and has the lowest ERA in the NCAA.
The Tigers have now forced the mercy rule in half their games this season. Part of the success comes from Earleywine’s constant tinkering with the lineup. In the doubleheader, for the first time all season, he used the same lineup in consecutive games. The offensive production may also mean hitters are meshing at the right time.
“I think that everyone has really settled into what kind of hitters we are,” Genovese said. “Ultimately, we’re swinging at the right pitches and our timing is on.”
Missouri’s next games will be against Missouri State in a doubleheader on April 3 at Killian Stadium in Springfield, Mo.
- Nicole Hudson overtook Jenna Marston for the school record in walks. Both were tied going into the night at 118, but Hudson drew three walks and Marston drew two.
- In Game 1, Chelsea Thomas’ average inning length was 4 minutes and 1 second. South Carolina pitchers averaged 12 minutes and 55 seconds per inning.
- Missouri now has the best conference record in the SEC at 7-1.
- Carlie Rose’s strikeout in the second inning of the second game ended a three and a half game streak without a strikeout for the Tigers.
- In the second game, Missouri hitters had two walks in each of the four innings.
- Earleywine used the same lineup in consecutive games for the first time this season.