Assistant coach Pete D’Amour described softball as a sport of “peaks and valleys,” and No. 15 Missouri’s 5-0 weekend at the Citrus Classic was definitely a peak.
The Tigers (12-3) were led offensively by sophomore outfielders Taylor Gadbois and Emily Crane. Gadbois batted .556 and had five stolen bases over the weekend. Crane batted .550 and had a team-high nine RBIs. Senior outfielder Mackenzie Sykes followed close behind with eight RBIs.
Missouri’s opening game against Bradley was uneventful. After five scoreless innings, junior third baseman Angela Randazzo drove in the only run of the game. Her RBI single sealed the 1-0 win and the lowest scoring game the Tigers have played so far this year.
Against Syracuse, the team was forced to an eighth inning tied with the Orange, 6-6. A three-run shot from Randazzo seemed to end it, but the Orange scored another and loomed over the Tigers with bases loaded on two outs. Missouri freshman Casey Stangel held her nerve and delivered a strikeout to give the Tigers a 9-7 win. Stangel went 4-0 over the weekend.
D’Amour said he is excited to see the fresh-faced team come into its own.
“We gotta remember how young this team is,” he said. “Part of being at the level we are is learning how to win. … You can’t let off the gas, and you can’t get excited and look ahead. You’ve got to play in the moment.”
At the Mary Nutter Classic on Feb. 20-22, the Tigers’ two losses at the hands of Baylor and UCLA were both the result of late comebacks by their opponents. On Friday in Florida, Missouri turned the tables.
Missouri staged a miraculous seventh-inning comeback against Illinois State, coming back from a 10-5 deficit to win 11-10. Crane had three RBIs, including the game winner. In the next game, the Tigers breezed past Radford 7-1.
Sunday was once again a standout win, with Missouri triumphing 7-0 over Ohio State to close out the weekend. Sykes led the charge with two runs, four RBIs and a home run.
Missouri begins conference play this weekend with a visit to Texas A&M. And in the meantime, D’Amour has one strategy: “Go game by game.”