Missouri softball drops final game, series to Tennessee despite early lead

Freshman Jazmyn Rollin led the Tigers’ offense with her second three-hit game.

Errors proved to be the difference maker in the rubber match between Missouri and No. 5 Tennessee on Monday night. The Lady Vols scored three unearned runs in their victory. Tennessee (28-6, 6-3 SEC) defeated Missouri (17-14, 6-6 SEC) 9-3 in the series finale.

“We were exposed a little bit today,” coach Larissa Anderson said. “We were outplayed at times with some of those first-and-thirds. And [the players] have to experience that.”

Despite a solo home run from sophomore Brooke Wilmes that gave the Tigers an early lead in the first, the Tennessee offense took control in the third inning.

Redshirt senior Madi Norman only faced three batters in each of the first two innings. Norman had relied on her drop ball all weekend, but Tennessee finally moved up in the box and started to get hits.

“The rest of the innings, me and coach decided to throw rise balls,” Norman said. “That’s not really a pitch that I ever throw, so I was pleased with that. I thought I competed with what I had and made the adjustments I had to, just unfortunate because it was a little too late.”

Missouri responded with two runs of its own in the bottom of the third. Freshman Jazmyn Rollin had an RBI double to center, while Moore also drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

Tennessee started to capitalize on Missouri’s errors to add to its lead. Junior Tianna Batts stole home in the fourth, followed by an unearned run in the fifth. The Lady Vols added two more unearned runs in the seventh to increase their lead to 9-3.

Rollin led the Tigers offensively, going 3-4 with two singles and a double. The true freshman leads the team with a .438 batting average.

“I just decided she’s throwing a rise ball to scoot up in the box and take her rise away,” Rollin said.

Freshman pitcher Ashley Rogers earned her 12th win of the season after replacing Tennessee’s Matty Moss in the third inning. Rogers gave up three hits while striking out five in four-plus innings of work.

“[Rogers] is outstanding,” Anderson said. “She throws the ball in four different planes with a great change-up, and her change-up comes in at the same level as her curve and her backdoor so it’s really hard to pick up. She’s an All-American pitcher.”

Missouri dropped its SEC record to 6-6. After starting the season 0-4 in conference, the Tigers have added six wins against ranked conference opponents.

“I’m evaluating Mizzou, not who we’re competing against,” Anderson said. “Those first-and-thirds are always going to be in my mind and making sure we can execute it correctly regardless of who we’re playing.”

The Tigers will take a short break from SEC play as they host the Mizzou Tournament with games against Pittsburgh and Oregon this weekend.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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