In a matchup of two of the Southeastern Conference’s hottest pitchers Thursday under the lights, No. 13 Mizzou Softball (41-13, 15-7 SEC) defeated No. 6 Alabama (43-9, 17-5 SEC) in a game filled with offensive highlights. While freshman P Tori Finucane (Germantown, Md.) squared off Alabama’s Jaclyn Traina, it was the bats that stole the spotlight. Four home runs and 19 combined hits led to an 8-6 Mizzou victory in the opening contest of the three-game set.
Alabama jumped out to an early lead on a leadoff home run in the top of the first inning. In the second, the Crimson Tide strung together back-to-back singles to start off the inning before back-to-back sacrifices brought in another run to push the lead to 2-0.
With two outs in the bottom of the third inning, redshirt sophomore OF Taylor Gadbois (Maryville, Mo.) narrowly beat out a grounder to the left side of the infield and a poor throw advanced her to second. That set up fellow redshirt sophomore SS/C Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fl.) to knock her in on an RBI single. Sophomore 2B/OF Emily Crane (Troy, Mo.) then blasted a two-run home run over the corner of the left field wall for her second hit of the night and sprinted around the bases for a 3-2 Mizzou lead.
After Finucane sat down the Crimson Tide in order in the top of the fourth inning, junior IF Corrin Genovese (East Amherst, N.Y.) lined a tripled to right field before junior 3B/C Angela Randazzo (Poway, Calif.) brought her in on a sacrifice fly. Junior 1B Kelsea Roth (Yorba Linda, Calif.) channeled that momentum by smacking Mizzou’s second home run of the night to right field to push the Tiger lead to 5-2.
Alabama stole the momentum back in the top of the fifth inning after a single, error and walk loaded the bases. A grand slam to right center field put Alabama ahead 6-5.
The Tigers were down, but not out, as they struck back in the sixth inning to retake the lead, 8-6. Genovese led off the inning with a walk and a Roth single brought in redshirt sophomore 2B Ashtin Stephens (Blue Springs, Mo.) to pinch run. Freshman 3B/2B Natalie Fleming (Silex, Mo.) roped a two-RBI double to the left center field gap as Stephens barely slid in under the tag. Another run crossed on a Gadbois groundout to send the Tigers to the final frame with a two-run lead.
Finucane allowed two runners to reach base in the top half of the seventh inning, but found her way out of trouble to clinch the 8-6 victory and earn her 21st win of the season. Her final line on the night was 7.0 innings pitched, five earned runs on nine hits and one walk, while striking out five. Traina dropped to 19-3 with 6.0 innings pitched, 10 hits and eight earned runs allowed with three strikeouts.
Two more crucial games in the series will decide seeding in the SEC Tournament. The second game of the series is slated for Friday at 6:30 p.m., with the series finale and Senior Day on Saturday at 1 p.m. with coverage on ESPNU.