Early in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, Missouri freshman pitcher Lauren Rice jammed a Creighton hitter whom fouled the pitch off the handle of her bat.
Junior third baseman Amanda Sanchez charged the foul ball and made a throw on the run to first. Although her effort on the dead ball didn’t count in the box score, she jogged back toward Missouri’s bench, chuckling and joking with her teammates in the dugout.
A few innings later, Sanchez flawlessly executed the same running throw to first to keep a perfect game intact. It typified her infectious calm and cool approach, as the Tigers went on to trounce Creighton 8-0 in six innings via run-rule and Drake 10-3 at Mizzou Softball Stadium.
“We’ve been calling her the ‘legend,’” junior left fielder Regan Nash said of Sanchez. “It’s a name that has been going around that we think is kind of funny, but it’s really fitting for her right now.”
Sanchez, the Southeastern Conference’s leader in batting average (.540) and home runs (7) entering the day, had a frustrating time at the plate in game one against Creighton.
She walked four times, two of which were of the intentional variety, and consequently didn’t register an official at-bat. Sanchez made the most of her time on the basepaths, though, scoring the Tigers’ game-clinching eighth run.
Drake (12-7) pitched to Sanchez once in game two, and she mashed a double off the top of the left field fence to plate a pair of runs. The Bulldogs then quickly stole a page from Creighton’s playbook and walked her three more times.
“We were joking that she’s Barry Bonds right now,” interim coach Gina Fogue said. “She’s either getting walked, intentionally walked or she’s up there getting a double or a hit, and hitting it hard.”
Instead, a pair of freshmen catchers – Trenity Edwards and Hatti Moore – carried the mantle offensively. Edwards smacked a solo home run against the Bluejays, while Moore cranked her first career home run in Missouri’s win over the Bulldogs.
“It’s a very good problem to have,” sophomore shortstop Braxton Burnside said of Missouri’s catching tandem. “They’re still kind of learning the game because they’re freshmen. They’re new to it but they’re doing a really great job.”
Junior right fielder Kolby Romaine had a stellar afternoon too, tallying four RBI and a home run against Creighton, her second of the weekend after hitting a walk-off Saturday against Southeastern Louisiana.
The Tigers’ three home runs on the day boost their total to eight on the weekend and 28 on the season, second-most in the SEC.
In the circle, Rice was virtually untouchable against the Bluejays and carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning. She struck out six and hurled a one-hit, complete game shutout, the first of her career.
“That’s the Lauren we’ve seen the last couple of weeks,” Fogue said. “When she’s working knees like that and it’s biting down and her changeup stays down, she’s hard to hit. When she pitches like that we’re going to do well.”
With the pair of wins, Missouri improved to 16-7 overall and closed out a perfect 6-0 weekend at the Mizzou Tournament. The Tigers earned three run-rule victories during that stretch and outscored their opponents 44-12.
Missouri returns to the diamond when it travels to face No. 5 Tennessee (21-1) at 4 p.m. Friday in the first of three games against the Volunteers. Live coverage of every game will be broadcast on SEC Network+.
Supervising editor is Jason Lowenthal: email@example.com, 882-5730.