Missouri needed only to win one game against Nebraska on Sunday to punch their ticket to a seventh-straight super regional later this week. Instead the team dropped both games to regional champion Nebraska, ending the 15th-seeded Tigers’ season.
“I’m disappointed, but obviously Nebraska was the better team today,” Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said.
The Tigers ran into trouble quickly in game one after Nebraska second baseman Hailey Decker hit a two-run shot two batters into the game to give the Cornhuskers a 2-0 lead. The Tigers got a run back the following frame, but Decker hit another two-run shot later that was part of a seven-run third inning for the Huskers.
Senior Alora Marble got the start in game one with freshman ace Tori Finucane out with a thumb injury. Marble struggled to keep the Huskers from scoring.
The Huskers would add a pair of runs in the fourth inning and were able to quiet the Tigers' bats for a comfortable 11-4 win.
Freshman Casey Stangel took the mound for game two after pitching against both Kansas and Bradley earlier this weekend.
Like Marble, Stangel gave up a two-run home run to Decker in the first inning to give the Huskers another early lead. Stangel got into a bit of a groove after the home run by retiring the next ten batters, but the Huskers extended their lead in the fifth inning with a three-run shot by Kiki Stokes.
“I think that was a momentum changer for us,” Stokes said of her home run.
Junior Kelsea Roth got the Tigers on the board in the bottom of the fifth with a solo shot to center field but the Tigers had nothing cooking after that. Multiple times during both games, Missouri had runners in scoring position but were unable to drive them in, which allowed the Cornhuskers to maintain the large lead they had.
“The key to this game is timely hitting,” Mizzou shortstop Corrin Genovese said. “Hitting when people are on base, that’s what starts rallies and keeps them going, and we could never get the big hit when we needed it just to keep things going today.”
Nebraska put the nail in Missouri’s coffin in the top of the seventh by adding three runs, including Decker’s fourth two-run shot of the day.
“The second game, I just focused on hitting line drives, and some of them went out,” Decker said.
With the final out, the Tigers’ run of six straight super regionals was snapped, leaving Earleywine to express how the Tigers’ dominance was difficult to maintain over the years.
“It just shows how hard it is,” Earleywine said. “It is so very difficult to win a regional. We all get accustomed to it around here because we have people like (former Missouri pitcher) Chelsea Thomas and so on. It shows how hard it is.”