Missouri softball's initial senior day gameplan Sunday went out the window two batters in as Mississippi State’s Fa Leilua hit a long fly ball that went out of the Mizzou Softball Stadium.
Against one of the worst teams in the Southeastern Conference and coming off a doubleheader sweep Saturday, it seemed the Tigers were set up for a chance to showcase their senior class, beginning with a start for Sophie Dandola in the circle . She was only able to record a single out before being pulled.
Despite Dandola's short outing, her teammates rallied to complete the sweep Sunday by a final score of 6-5.
Just like in Saturday's wins, Missouri's Jenna Laird proved to be the difference-maker.
After the Bulldogs tied the game at 5-5 in the top of the sixth, the freshman shortstop stepped to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second. She bounced a 2-1 pitch up the middle, forcing shortstop Madisyn Kennedy to make a diving play.
Kennedy snagged it, but by the time she got up to make a throw, Laird was already reaching first, Hannah McGivern was touching second and Imani Myint was bearing down on home plate. Kennedy’s throw home was not in time, allowing Myint to score the go-ahead and game-winning run.
“We all were doing it for the seniors, especially me,” Myint, a senior, said. “I’m so excited for our team. We fight so hard and I’m just so proud of them, so it meant a lot.”
The winning run provided a touch of present-meets-future, with the soon-to-depart Myint being driven in by the freshman Laird.
“It’s almost like you can’t script it any better in those situations,” Missouri coach Larissa Anderson said.
Laird finished the day 2 for 3, just as she had in each of the first two games of the series. She also drew a walk and scored twice to go with the game-winning RBI.
In the circle, the Tigers needed four different players to close out the sweep.
After relieving Dandola, Laurin Krings went five innings and gave up a pair of runs. Nichols appeared for ⅔ of an inning , giving up the game-tying RBI in the sixth. She was given credit for the win, as Missouri pulled back ahead after her departure, leaving Jordan Weber, who pitched a perfect seventh for her first career save, to close out the day.
“I thought today was a perfect example of pitching by committee,” Anderson said. “They all came in and did an excellent job and did what they were supposed to do.”
While Laird was the only player with multiple hits on the day, the Tigers drew seven walks. That set up a consistent threat on the bases as four different players capitalized with RBI.