Things got off to a quick start in Missouri softball's final doubleheader of its fall ball schedule Friday evening, in which it won 7-2 and 4-0. The Tigers' first opponent, Missouri Southern State, was already warmed up after its 7-1 win over Central Methodist and kept that same energy at the start of its matchup with Missouri.
Lions infielder Josie Tofpi was the leader of that charge, hitting a two-run homer and delivering the gut punch Missouri probably wasn't expecting in the first inning. After a three and out during the first inning, the Tigers had to answer back quickly if they wanted the momentum to shift in their favor and answer they did. First baseman Riley Frizell smacked one deep into centerfield.
While that run didn't give the Tigers the lead, it set the tone for the rest of the match offensively as they went on to score at least one in each of the next four innings. Outfielder Brooke Wilmes added to the homer count, hitting hers in the top of the fifth. The offense led to defense for Missouri. After Tofpi's hit, the Lions went without a hit for the remainder of the game. Coach Larissa Anderson's squad moved smoothly on grounding, committing only one error for both games.
This overwhelming performance did not yank Missouri Southern State's spirit as it changed and sang until the final inning of the game.
"No! No! No!" each Lion player yelled from their dugout anytime a ball was thrown by a Missouri pitcher.
Despite the rowdiness of the pitchers from the first game, Jordan Weber, Megan Schumacher and Emma Nichols put the ball exactly where it needed to be, allowing the defense to ground seamlessly. Weber struck out four players and walked two during her three innings.
The nail in the coffin came in the final inning. Already leading the Lions 4-2, Wilmes came up to bat. On the first pitch, the ball went to the left of the Lion centerfielder, sending Chantice Phillips zooming from second to home. A similar setup happened just moments later as Alex Honnold hit a double, sending both Wilmes and shortstop Jenna Laird home.
The 7-2 win over Missouri Southern State was just the warm up the Tigers needed for their final game of the fall against Central Methodist. Unlike last game, Missouri was able to get on the board first. Wilmes picked up from where she left off. Her single, which after an error, put her at second base, was the perfect setup for Laird, who was up to bat after her. With two quick runners on the bases, the Eagles couldn't get the ball out fast enough to stop Wilmes from making it home after Laird's single.
As the temperature dropped below 50 degrees, the offense of both teams cooled as well. For the next two innings, neither team collected a hit. Despite the lull, Nichols was able to capitalize in the circle, striking out five batters before freshman Jayci Kruse took over in the fourth inning. Kruse finished the match with one strikeout and walking two batters.
The Tigers ended their fall ball schedule with a dominant 4-0 victory over the Eagles. Showcasing their depth and even some of their weaknesses has enlarged the target on the Tigers' back both in and out of conference.
While there is still plenty of prep to be done before the spring, Anderson and her squad can rest assured that this team is geared to pick up where they left off last season.