COLUMBIA, Mo. – With Missouri’s 6-3 victory against the No. 12 Washington Huskies, No. 5 Tigers have punched their ticket to the Women’s College World Series for the third consecutive season and sixth time in program history.
Mizzou rode a five-run first inning to their record-breaking 52nd win of the season, surpassing last year’s total of 51. Chelsea Thomas picked up another victory to improve to 31-6 – putting her one shy of tying the school record for wins in a season. She scattered 10 hits and allowed three runs – two earned, while striking out nine.
A wild first inning saw the Tigers score five times on three hits to take a huge early advantage. Rhea Taylor led off the game by slapping the first pitch she saw into center field for a leadoff single and then reached second by stealing her 43rd base of the season. Jenna Marston drew a walk ahead of Nicole Hudson’s base hit into right, driving in Taylor for the first run of the game. On the play, Hudson was hung up between first and second, but the first baseman threw the ball into center field as she tried to get Hudson at second base, allowing Marston to score the second run.
Hudson moved up to third on a wild pitch and scored two batters later on a fielder’s choice. Marla Schweisberger hit a ground ball to shortstop Jenn Salling, who immediately went home with the throw, but Hudson was able to get under the tag to make it 3-0. Lisa Simmons then blasted her third home run of the season, sending a two-run shot over the wall in right-center field to extend Missouri’s lead to 5-0.
Taylor’s run in the first inning was the 234th of her career, tying her with Norrelle Dickson of Oklahoma for most career runs scored in the history of the Big 12.
The Huskies had an opportunity to chip away at the lead in the bottom half of the first, picking up two hits and drawing a walk off Thomas to load the bases with just one out. After Thomas struck out the first batter, Niki Williams drew a single and Kimi Pohlman walked to put a pair of runners on. Kaitlin Inglesby then delivered a base hit back up the middle that was knocked down by Marston, loading the bases but keeping the runner at second from scoring. Missouri got out of it, however, as Morgan Stuart hit a little chopper out in front of the plate that was fielded by Thomas and flipped to Megan Christopher to get the runner at the plate, with a groundout to shortstop ending the inning.
Missouri added another run in the top of the third with the aid of a two-out error by the Washington left fielder, keeping the inning alive. After Fleming drew a walk, Simmons hit a fly ball into left field that got caught in the swirling winds and was dropped by Whitney Jones, allowing Simmons to move up to second and Fleming to third. Fleming would score the sixth run of the game on a passed ball, Washington’s second of the evening.
A leadoff double by Salling to start the bottom of the third put another Husky in scoring position, but once again Thomas and the Tigers worked out of trouble. Back-to-back ground outs on first pitches accounted for the first two outs of the inning, while Salling moved to third. Thomas then got Inglesby to fly out to right, ending the inning.
Washington was finally able to cut into the lead in the bottom of the fifth, scoring three times to trim the Tiger advantage to 6-3. Salling and Williams each singled into center field to put a pair of Huskies aboard. A fielding error by Marston gave the Huskies their first run of the game while keeping two UW runners aboard. Inglesby then cleared the bases, roping a double to left field to bring in two. After an infield single put runners on the corners, Thomas worked out of the jam with two consecutive strikeouts.
That would be all the Huskies would get, however, as Thomas would continue to strand Husky runners. After giving up a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh, Thomas worked a strikeout and got the final hitter to ground into a fielder’s choice, sending the Tigers back to Oklahoma City.
Another University Field record was set on Sunday night, as 2,604 fans were in attendance to see Missouri move on. Almost 5,200 fans were in attendance for the two game series this weekend. 2,595 were in the stands last night.
Missouri now moves on to face No. 4 Florida in the opening round of action.