April 13, 2002
The University of Missouri softball team gave No. 4 Nebraska all it could handle on Saturday in Lincoln, falling just short to the Huskers, 4-3 in nine innings. Mizzou falls to 23-28 overall and 1-11 in the Big 12 while Nebraska improves to 36-7 overall and 6-2 in the Big 12.
It looked as if it were going to be a long day for Mizzou starter Ingrid Werner and the Tiger defense as the Huskers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning on two hits, one Tiger error and a walk. Werner and the Tiger defense would really settle down after the first stanza, though holding the Huskers scoreless for the next seven innings.
The Tiger offensive rally would begin in the top of inning five with a single by junior Sara Vassmer, who made two outstanding defensive plays as well on the day. Leadoff hitter Morgan LeCluyse then recorded her ninth double of the season putting two runners on with no outs.
Senior Heather Allister would then reach on a fielder's choice but Vassmer would be thrown out on the play at home by the second baseman to record the first out of the inning. Then, with runners on second and third, junior Melanie Fisher would step to the plate and belt her third double of the season scoring LeCluyse and moving Allister to third to get the Tigers on the board. The Huskers walked the Big 12's leading hitter, Rachael McGinnis but freshman Heather Kunkel would make them pay driving a single to center field that scored Allister and re-loaded the bases. Senior Erin Erickson would then walk which scored Fisher tying the game at 3-3 heading into the sixth.
Following the Tiger's second run of the inning, Nebraska brought in senior Leigh Ann Walker to pitch. After walking the opening batter the pushed across the tying run, Walker was nearly untouchable. She worked 4.2 innings in relief of Husker starter Peaches James giving up no hits and no runs.
Neither team could manage a run in the sixth inning and the Tigers were held scoreless in the top of the seventh. Werner would work herself into trouble in the bottom half of the seventh giving up a walk and an infield single to open the inning. After a sacrifice bunt by NU's Leigh Suhr that moved the runners to second and third, the Tigers would elect to intentionally walk the Husker's No. 3 batter, Trimboli to load the bases. The move would pay off, as Werner would step up in a huge way striking out clean-up hitter Amber Burgess and getting now-designated player Peaches James to ground out to short taking the game to extra innings.
Neither team could generate any offensive firepower in the eighth. However, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Werner would give up a walk and a single to put runners on first and second. James would come back and exact her revenge on Mizzou for knocking her out of the game in the fifth slamming a single to left field that scored Trimboli from second base to end the ball game and dash the Tigers comeback hopes, 4-3.
Head coach Jay Miller said he was please with the effort the Tigers gave and that they made some encouraging improvements.
"We made some major strides today and really played well with one of the best teams in the country," Miller said. "Ingrid was outstanding and fought hard for today. We need that same kind of effort and intensity from our kids tomorrow and come away with a split."
The Tigers take on the Huskers once again tomorrow at Bowlin Stadium with first pitch set for 1 pm. The game can be heard on 1580 KTGR in Columbia or via the web at www.mutigers.com