May 17, 2009
Final Stats |
COLUMBIA, Mo. -
The Missouri Tigers won the final game of the NCAA Softball Midwest Regional 1-0 Sunday afternoon at University Field over the top-seeded DePaul Blue Demons. Coming into the contest, the Tigers were undefeated in the double-elimination tournament, meaning DePaul would have needed consecutive victories to advance to the Super Regional, whereas the Tigers needed only one.
In a fierce pitcher's duel, the Tigers struggled to hit their stride early on as DePaul pitcher Becca Heteniak retired the first nine batters she faced. Missouri's Chelsea Thomas was equally imposing in the circle, racking up seven strikeouts and retiring 10 of 11 batters between the second and fifth innings. Heteniak finished with four hits allowed, one earned run, eight strikeouts and a final record of 26-9. Thomas got credit for the victory, which pushes her record to 15-4 on the season, and finished with five hits allowed and zero earned runs.
Rhea Taylor provided the spark the Tigers needed offensively, with a solo shot that carried over the left field wall in the sixth inning to put Missouri ahead. The home run was only her fourth of the season and the fifth of her career. Taylor had also broken up Becca Heteniak's no-hitter in the fourth inning with a single hit straight at the pitcher, and advanced to second on an errant toss to first base. Taylor finished the game with two of Missouri's four hits, a run scored, and the game-winning RBI.
The Tigers squelched two potential DePaul scoring threats in the first two innings, retiring the side with a double play both times. DePaul also had a rally brewing in the sixth inning when Jackie Tarulli-Fisher reached on an error by shortstop Abby Vock followed by an Amber Patton single to left field. Thomas managed to get out of the jam, however, striking out Heteniak and getting Simone Ashkar to ground to second where Patton was pegged to end the inning.
Today's victory not only propels the Tigers into the NCAA Super Regionals for the second consecutive year, but it also sets the new Missouri softball record for most wins in a season at 48. The Tigers have won 47 games three other times excluding this season, in 1995, 1997, and 2008. Missouri will now face the winner of the UCLA regional in the NCAA Super Regional Tournament. Further information regarding the Super Regional will be announced when available.