Wert’s power leads Missouri to 5-0 record in Citrus Blossom Classic

The Tigers outscored their five opponents by a combined 39-1.

Missouri followed up a 3-2 opening weekend with a perfect 5-0 record against the likes of Troy, Villanova, UMass, Iowa and Kansas in the Citrus Blossom Classic.

Missouri started the weekend against Troy and Villanova on Friday. In game one, the Tigers shutout the Trojans 6-0.

The Tigers took an early lead, scoring in the top of the first. Sophomore shortstop Brooke Wilmes led off with a double. Wilmes advanced to third on a single from senior Regan Nash and first baseman Kolby Romaine hit a sacrifice fly to score Wilmes.

Freshman designated player Geana Torres started off the second inning with a solo shot to left, putting Missouri up 2-0.

After a Romaine walk to start the third, Danie Garrison – pinch running for Romaine – stole second. With a runner on, Torres homered again, this time to right center, giving Missouri a 5-0 lead.

The Tigers scored again in the fourth inning. With Romaine on second base after hitting a double, a single from third baseman Kimberly Wert drove in Missouri’s sixth and final run of the game.

The fifth, sixth and seventh innings were scoreless on both sides, and both teams left multiple runners on base.

Senior Madi Norman gave up just two hits while striking out three in seven innings. Norman held the Trojans hitless through five innings in her second complete game shutout of the season.

Sophomore Cassie Gasper pitched the Tigers’ second complete shutout of the day in game two, as Missouri topped Villanova 7-0.

Missouri’s offense started off strong in the first inning. Leading off for the Tigers, Wilmes advanced to first on a hit by pitch. A ground rule double by Romaine drove in Wilmes, putting the Tigers on the board. Redshirt freshman Kendyll Bailey walked and then scored on a groundout by Wert, putting the Tigers up 2-0.

The Tiger offense came alive again in the fourth inning. Pinch hitting, junior Gabby Garrison tripled to start the inning, and sophomore Hatti Moore singled to center to drive in Gabby Garrison. With Moore on base, sophomore Callie Martin hit a two-run shot and increased the Tigers’ lead to 5-0.

Missouri added to its lead again in the bottom of the sixth. Nash advanced to first on an error, scoring both sophomore Abby George – who pinch ran for Moore – and freshman Emma Raabe, who singled. The two unearned runs put Missouri ahead 7-0.

Gasper finished the game with five strikeouts, earning her second win of the season.

"The game becomes easier when you get pitching performances like we got today," coach Larissa Anderson said in a press release. "It gives our defense confidence, and I think you saw that. Everyone will want to focus on the offense, but I am really proud of how our defense played today. The pitching was great, and the defense behind them was equally impressive."

On Saturday, the Tigers faced the University of Massachusetts Minutewomen in an early contest, then squared off against the University of Iowa Hawkeyes later in the day.

Against UMass, Romaine got the scoring started in the first with a two-run homer, her second of the season. After that, the Tiger bats went into a mid-game lull, but junior Nalani Scates made up for it on the mound. The junior college transfer made her first start and second appearance of the season. She pitched a complete game shutout, the first of her career. She struck out six while giving up just two hits, walking two and hitting a batter over a full seven innings.

In the sixth, the Tigers stretched their lead and gave Scates more cushion. Wilmes smashed a two-run triple to add to the lead, and Gabby Garrison drove in a fifth run with an infield single. It became more than enough breathing room for Scates, who faced just four batters over the minimum in an easy 5-0 win.

In game two, Norman took the hill. Not to be outdone by her teammate Scates, she struck out a career-high ten Hawkeyes in six innings of work, and allowed four hits, two walks and one unearned run. Following a similar script from the first game of the day, the Tigers got off to a quick start offensively, then quieted down again before erupting late in the game.

Martin scored first with an RBI double in the second, but that was all the offense either team could muster for some time.

Clinging to a 1-0 lead in the fifth, Romaine stepped to the plate with two runners on and delivered a three-run shot, her second of the day and third of the season. That stretched the Tigers’ lead to four, but they weren’t done yet. Raabe, a pinch hitter, hit a two-run single to push the lead to six. Wilmes reached base on an error soon after and brought in another run, making the score 7-0. In the sixth, Wert added a solo shot and Gabby Garrison scored on a passed ball.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Hawkeyes were able to bring in a run thanks to a bases loaded hit by pitch. However, Norman was able to stop the bleeding, and the Tigers won 9-1 in six innings.

In the finale, the Tigers profited from a nine-run fourth inning and had another shutout, this time a 12-0 victory over the Kansas Jayhawks. Missouri dominated in all facets of the game.

The scoring began in the second inning, when Moore hit a two-run homer to left field. The Tigers used a combination of four walks, three singles, two errors and two wild pitches to score six of their nine runs in the fourth. Wert also hit a three-run homerun in the fourth, which increased her weekend RBI total to six. Gasper threw four scoreless innings and struck out four Jayhawk batters.

Missouri will head to Cathedral City, California on Thursday for another set of five games in the Mary Nutter Classic against BYU, Arizona, UCLA, Washington and New Mexico State.

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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