COLUMBIA, Mo. – The No. 25/23 University of Missouri softball team (16-6) picked up an 11-5 midweek victory over in-state foe Kansas City (5-14) Wednesday in its 2023 home opener at Mizzou Softball Stadium.
Freshman Cierra Harrison retired the first 12 batters she faced in the first home start of her collegiate career, punching out four in five innings of work to earn the win and improve to 5-0 in 2023. She allowed just one run on two hits with a walk.
After a 1-2-3 top half of the first, the Tiger bats got right to work in the bottom of the frame. Junior left fielder Chantice Phillips hit a three-run jack, the first in her career at Mizzou, to left center after the Tigers’ plate discipline put runners on the corner.
From there, junior shortstop Jenna Laird’s savvy baserunning and clutch hitting increased the Mizzou lead to 4-0. After drawing her second walk of the game, Laird went first to third on a single from sophomore second baseman Julia Crenshaw. During the next at bat, Crenshaw went for a delayed steal of second, allowing Laird to steal home.
In the fourth inning, Laird took first and advanced to second on a throwing error, before speeding 60 feet to third on a wild pitch. From there, all she needed was a ground ball from Crenshaw to cross the plate for the Tigers’ fifth run.
Laird drove in a pair of runs as well, bringing home two Tigers with a two-out single up the middle in the home half of the fifth.
Kansas City battled back with a late rally in the sixth inning, scoring four runs to draw the game within two. With the tying run on base, freshman Taylor Pannell stepped into the circle and punched out two Roos to prevent further damage.
The Tigers answered with four runs of their own to provide insurance in the bottom of the sixth. Phillips picked up her career-best fourth RBI of the game to bring home sophomore third baseman Kara Daly. Junior right fielder Payton Jackson then sliced a ball fair down the right field line and legged out an RBI triple to drive Phillips in. She scored not long after on a passed ball.
Pannell shut Kansas City down in her second inning of work, closing the door with a double play to secure Mizzou’s second-consecutive victory and earn the save.
The Lee’s Summit, Missouri, native, picked up her third career save, allowing just two hits with a trio of strikeouts.
The Tigers welcome No. 16/16 Kentucky for their SEC opening weekend March 10-12 at the Mizzou Softball Stadium. First pitch is 4 p.m., CT Friday and 1 p.m., CT Saturday and Sunday.
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