Missouri softball shines as it honors Vonda Decker, late mother of Kara Decker

Madi Norman led the Tigers to an 8-0 victory over Oregon with a five inning no-hitter.

It was an emotional and special day for the Missouri softball team as it honored Kara Decker’s late mother Vonda Decker who passed away from breast cancer on Dec. 31, 2017.

Both teams gathered across the foul lines and watched as Kara’s father, Rob, fired the first pitch to his daughter. They embraced with a long hug in front of the pitcher’s circle. Before Kara took the field, coach Larissa Anderson told her, “I’m going to be your softball mom for the rest of your life.”

After the ceremony, Missouri (21-16, 6-6) raced onto the field with bright pink socks to take on Oregon (16-19, 1-7). The Tigers defeated Oregon 8-0, concluding the Mizzou Tournament with a 2-2 record.

Both teams remained scoreless after the first two innings, with the Tigers leaving the bases loaded in the first. In the third inning, both teams stood outside their respective dugouts and held up signs of a person’s name that has battled cancer.

“It’s tough for any young person to go through losing a parent,” Anderson said. “But for someone to do it when she’s in college and happen freshman year shows you how strong that Kara is and how much support she has from her teammates.”

Senior Madi Norman silenced the Oregon offense and pitched the 41st no-hitter in school history. She allowed no runs in five innings of work.

“Madi had an outstanding performance, but she can’t do that without the defensive plays that we made behind her,” Anderson said. “Today she was much improved in establishing that strike one and getting ahead of batters.”

The Tiger offense started rolling in the bottom of the third inning after sophomore Brooke Wilmes reached first base on an error. Senior Regan Nash and freshman Jazmyn Rollin hit back-to-back infield singles to third base, loading the bases. Sophomore Kim Wert, who flew out with the bases loaded in the first inning, followed with a grand slam, her team-leading 15th homer, to put MU ahead 4-0.

“I just missed the ball in my first at-bat and I knew that in my second at-bat I wasn’t letting that happen again,” Wert said. “It’s really just making sure that you learn from your mistakes.”

In the bottom of the fourth, Wilmes lined a double down the right field line to extend the lead to 5-0. In the next inning, sophomore Hatti Moore led off with her fifth homer of the year.

“Hatti did an unbelievable job behind the plate and put up some run production,” Anderson said. “Overall, a great team effort. Today, we came out and looked fresh and were ready to play with a lot of energy.

Missouri tallied two more runs in the fifth courtesy of RBI singles from Decker and freshman Emma Raabe. Raabe’s single ended the game because of the mercy rule.

Missouri will head to St. Charles, Missouri, where it will face Illinois in a doubleheader on April 9.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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