The Maneater

Florida’s sweep keeps Missouri softball out of SEC Tournament — which it’s hosting

The team finished its regular season 28-27 and will await its tentative fate in Sunday’s NCAA Tournament selection show.

Infielder Amanda Sanchez during a game against Drake University on March 4, 2018.

The Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament will start Wednesday, May 9 at Mizzou Softball Stadium in Columbia. In a 13-team conference, the top 12 in the standings qualify, excluding only one school.

The one team missing out on the tournament? Its host.

The Missouri softball team was eliminated from SEC Tournament contention this weekend after being swept by Florida. The three straight losses ended the Tigers’ 2018 regular season with a 28-27 record. Sunday’s completion of the sweep cemented them in the cellar of the SEC.

“We're hurting and obviously disappointed with how this one turned out today,” coach Gina Fogue said in a press release after Sunday’s game.

A team spokesperson said Monday that the team is still figuring out its practice plans for the time being, while Mizzou Softball Stadium plays host to the other 12 teams who made the SEC Tournament.

The team’s record is almost identical to last season; the 2017 Tigers finished with a 29-28 record. Despite edging the .500 mark, the Achilles’ heel of both teams was conference play. The 2017 and 2018 teams finished with a 7-16 and 6-17 record in the SEC, respectively. Both teams stand in stark contrast to the 2016 season, which finished 42-16 overall with a 14-10 conference record.

The Tigers lost 4-2 on Friday and were completely shut out, 5-0, on Saturday. Florida only led 1-0 until the sixth inning of Saturday’s game.

“It was a one-run ballgame for much of the day and we certainly had our chances to take the lead,” Fogue said Saturday in a press release.

In Sunday’s series finale, Missouri seemed in control, leading 2-0 going into the fourth inning for the team’s first lead of the series. That was stretched to 4-1 by the end of the frame.

Needing a win, plus a loss from Ole Miss or Mississippi State, to make their way into the conference tournament, the Tigers were in shape to do their part when they led 4-3 into the seventh inning. They got the other result they needed. They were three outs away from avoiding the embarrassment of watching the tournament be played on their home field.

But the seventh was cruel to Missouri; a hit by pitch, walk and single tied up the game, then a gut punch — a three-run, go-ahead home run from Florida first baseman Kayli Kvistad. The impactful blast sunk the Tigers. Their rally fell flat. They lost 7-4.

“I felt like we had all the momentum, but kudos to Florida for answering our push with one of its own,” Fogue said in the press release.

The Tigers are still eligible for the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA Selection Show is next Sunday, May 13, and the tournament starts the following Friday.

“I told our group that our season isn't done, as we have to focus and prep for the potential NCAA Tournament,” Fogue said in the press release. “Still a lot ahead of us.”

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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