The Maneater

Softball continues extra-base power to kick off ASU Littlewood Classic

The team’s five-game winning streak comes to an end with a loss to Illinois State.

Redshirt sophomore Madi Norman, 22, pitches towards the end of the first game of the double header facing Evangelical University on Oct. 28, 2016. Through the game, Norman allowed only seven hits, one walk, and one strikeout. Maneater File Photo

The first two games of the ASU Littlewood Classic for Missouri softball (5-2) on Friday featured starkly different play from the Tigers, and as a result, very different outcomes.

In the first game, Missouri scored a season-high 11 runs on 14 hits in its win against South Dakota (1-5) for an 11-7 win. The Tigers slammed four home runs and two doubles on their way to the victory. The run scoring seemed to disappear in the second game against Illinois State (3-3), where the Tigers did not score until the seventh inning in a 7-3 loss. The loss snapped the Tigers’ five-game winning streak.

In the first game, starting pitcher Cheyenne Baxter, who was coming off the team’s 3-0 win against Charleston Southern last Saturday, struck out four batters in her third appearance of the season against South Dakota, but left with one out in the third inning. The three runners she left on base scored when relief pitcher Parker Conrad struggled with control, allowing two walks and recording just one out.

Sophomore Danielle Baumgartner pitched the remaining 4.1 innings. Baumgartner is following up an impressive freshman season, which saw her finish with a 1.98 ERA in 109.1 innings pitched.

After the South Dakota offense answered in the third inning to gain a 4-3 lead, Missouri regained the lead in the fifth inning with three runs. Both teams rallied offensively in the seventh, with eight of the 18 total runs being scored in the game’s last inning.

Less than 12 hours later, the team’s offense performed quite differently against Illinois State; Missouri did not record its first hit until the third inning, while the Redbirds jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the second inning. Shortstop Braxton Burnside’s solo home run started the team’s seventh-inning rally against Illinois State, but it was not enough for the Tigers to come back. Burnside’s day consisted of a double, two home runs, and 6 RBI over the two games; five of her seven hits on the season have been for extra bases.

Junior Madi Norman pitched four innings in her sixth appearance of the season against Illinois State. Cheyenne Baxter came in in relief and recorded three strikeouts in her two innings.

The team’s first loss against James Madison University on Feb. 10 featured only two hits, but the team produced eight in their second loss on Friday. Chloe Rathburn, Cayla Kessinger and Kolby Romaine began the third, fourth and fifth innings, respectively, with hits; but the spark of offense stopped there. Illinois State pitcher Sarah Finck tossed a complete game, her first of the season.

Missouri excelled defensively and in self-control at the plate, with only one strikeout and one error in the field between the first two games of the tournament. Extra-base power has also proven a trend in the team’s first seven games with 12 doubles and eight home runs so far.

The team will play again at 3:30 p.m. Saturday against Wichita State as well as 9 p.m. against Arizona State. The tournament will end on Sunday with a rematch against Illinois State.

Edited by Eli Lederman | elederman@themaneater.com

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