Tigers top Bradley, will face KU

For the first time in any sport since Missouri moved to the Southeastern Conference, the Tigers go head-to-head against rival Kansas.

After a two-year ceasefire, the war will continue.

But Bradley almost kept the peace.

The Braves erased a four-run Missouri lead with two outs in the seventh inning. Down one, the No. 15 seeded Tigers tied it up in the bottom of the inning, setting up a walk-off single by junior shortstop Corrin Genovese to give Missouri a 6-5 extra innings win in its first game of the NCAA Softball Columbia Regional Friday afternoon.

The win forces a matchup between Border War rivals Missouri and Kansas at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. It’s the first head-to-head matchup between the schools since Missouri left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference in 2012.

The players downplayed the matchup with KU, saying it was just game two of the regionals. Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine embraced the rivalry more than his team.

“Everybody that follows this program is going to be watching the results,” Earleywine said. “We haven’t had the bitter-type rivalry that typically exists between two teams, that may exist in other sorts here, but it’s a rivalry none the less.”

Missouri freshman pitcher Casey Stangel cruised through the first 20 outs, allowing just four hits and striking out four. But with two outs in the seventh, Stangel walked two straight batters, leading to a three-run home run by first baseman Alyson Clemente.

Stangel allowed two more hits before Earleywine replaced her with senior Alora Marble.

“I think the walks were really what killed me in the seventh inning,” Stangel said. “I think that giving those away to them was bigger than the home run.”

Missouri used walks to its advantage in the bottom of the eighth. Sophomore center fielder Taylor Gadbois drew a walk, eventually being driven in by Genovese’s walk-off.

Genovese went 4-for-4 in the game.

“I was happy with (my game), but more than anything I’m just happy we got out of there with a win,” Genovese said. “It doesn’t really matter, going whatever-for-whatever, if your team loses at the end of the day.”

The game wouldn’t have gone to extra innings without Genovese’s big game. She doubled in the bottom of the seventh and scored the game-tying run on a sacrifice fly by freshman catcher Kirsten Mack.

The Tigers wouldn’t have had as big of a cushion if they hadn’t broken the game open in the fifth inning. Base hits by Genovese, junior first baseman Kelsea Roth and freshman pinch hitter Natalie Fleming inflated Missouri’s lead to four runs.

Stangel got the start because Missouri’s top pitcher, freshman Tori Finucane, sprained a ligament in her pitching thumb Tuesday in practice, Earleywine said after the game. Earleywine said her likelihood to pitch Saturday is less than 50 percent.

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