Missouri tops DePaul twice to advance
Taylor matches season total with two home runs on the day
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Fifth-seeded Missouri pulled out consecutive wins against DePaul on Sunday afternoon, sending the Tigers to their fourth consecutive NCAA Super Regional. MU moved on following a 7-3 victory and an 8-0 run-rule win in six innings.
Senior Rhea Taylor led the offense with a home run in each game, going 2 for 4 with two runs and four RBIs in the opener before going 3 for 4 with two runs and two RBIs in game two. Redshirt sophomore Chelsea Thomas earned victories in both games, capped by a six-inning no-hitter in the championship game, her fourth no-hitter of the season and eighth of her career.
In the first game of the day, DePaul scored the first run in their first at bat, taking advantage of a leadoff double by Alex Morocco. Sean Plese then hit a grounder back to the circle and legged out a fielder’s choice. Kirsten Verdun drove in Morocco on groundout to shortstop, giving DePaul the early 1-0 edge.
The Tigers loaded the bases with just one out in their half of the first inning but squandered a major opportunity, leaving the bags full without putting anything on the board.
Missouri kept the pressure on in the second and immediately broke through with a four run inning to take the lead.
Lisa Simmons led off the frame by roping a single down the line in right field. Megan Christopher then laid down a bunt and beat it out with no one covering first. On the play, Dean threw it into right field, allowing Simmons to take third.
Brianna Corwin came in to pinch run for Christopher and swiped second base, and Abby Vock came through with an RBI single into left, plating Simmons and moving Corwin to third. Vock then stole second base to put a pair in scoring position again, and two batters later Rhea Taylor lined the first pitch she saw over the wall in right field for a three-run homer. It was Taylor’s first home run since March 2 against Drake, and her third of the season.
Another run in the fourth for the Tigers made it 5-1, as Taylor plated her fourth RBI of the game. Vock led off the inning with a single into right-center, and then swiped her second bag of the game to get into scoring position. After moving to third on a groundout, Taylor hit a grounder to the right side, allowing Vock to touch the plate.
After five innings, Missouri brought in Kristin Nottelmann to relieve Thomas. After three consecutive hits cut the deficit to 5-2 and kept a pair of runners in scoring position with nobody out, Missouri went back to Thomas. She got the first batter out by strikeout, but another run scored on a fielder’s choice play at the plate, making it 5-3. Thomas was able to avoid any further damage by getting a pop out and a ground out back to the circle.
The Tigers got those runs back in their half of inning, showing impressive patience at the plate. With one out, five consecutive Tigers reached base safely with two runs scoring during that span, making it 7-3.
Thomas allowed a leadoff infield single in the seventh, but settled in and shut the door on DePaul by getting a line out, ground out and a strike out from the next three batters to force a decisive game seven.
A wild top of the first inning opened the decisive championship game, but Mizzou was able to emerge with a couple of runs to take the early 2-0 lead.
Fleming came through with a two run bomb to right-center field, giving the Tigers an early edge. The homer was Fleming’s fourth in the past eight games and 14th of the season, tying her for eighth on the Missouri single-season chart. Fleming also became the fourth Tiger in program history to reach 60 RBIs, as she’s now tied with Amanda Renth for third in single-season history and just five shy of breaking the school record.
Missouri put the first two batters aboard in the top of the third which led to another run, extending their lead to 3-0. Taylor reached on an infield single and then stole second base ahead of Marston, who got hit by a pitch. Taylor took third on a deep fly out by Hudson, and after Marston stole second base, a wild pitch brought Taylor in.
A clutch two out double by Maddison Ruggeberg in the top of the fifth extended the Missouri lead to 5-0. Ruggeberg drove in Marston, who singled, and Hudson, who walked. Marston singled behind Taylor, who led off the inning with a double, but Taylor was thrown out at the plate trying to score. After Ruggeberg’s double, Mackenzie Sykes came in and delivered a pinch hit single into left, bringing home pinch runner Brianna Corwin on the play to make it 6-0.
Thomas took a perfect game into the bottom of the fifth inning, when she issued a two out, full count walk to Marla Mathews, giving DePaul its first base runner of the game. Thomas worked out of it though, getting Megan Coronado striking out looking to end the inning.
Taylor’s second home run of the day in the top of the sixth inning iced the game for the Tigers, as she delivered the decisive blast with one out in the inning. After entering the weekend with just two home runs on the season, Taylor matched the total on Sunday.
From there, Thomas shut the door on the Blue Demons, getting two groundouts and a line out to finish off her fourth no hitter of the season, facing just one above the minimum. She struck out four batters and threw just 69 pitches, moving to 29-6 on the season.