By Micah Wright
Two SEC powerhouses squared off for a three-game series in Columbia in a top-20 matchup as the 19th-ranked Mizzou Tigers hosted the 15th-ranked LSU Tigers.
LSU responded from Friday’s 9-1 loss with a 4-2 win on Sunday morning in the first game of the doubleheader after Saturday’s postponement. Ali Kilponen, one of the better pitchers in the SEC, was excellent in her complete game win. That win evened the series, making Sunday afternoon’s game the series rubber match.
Early defensive struggles for both teams contributed to six combined runs in the first. LSU loaded the bases with one out and got a run off an error by Mizzou catcher Hatti Moore. It was a near double-play as Mizzou got the out at home, but Moore’s wide throw to first scored a run. LSU’s 1-0 was short lived due to lackluster defense in the infield.
In the bottom half of the first, LSU’s defense put themselves in a big hole as two errors (one at second and one at third) helped score five Mizzou runs. Four runs were unearned, as starter Shelby Wickersham faced eight batters and recorded just one out. Ali Kilponen, just a few hours removed from pitching game one of the doubleheader, relieved Wickersham. Kilponen got back-to-back outs to end the bottom of the first and never looked back. The last thing Mizzou wanted was to face Kilponen a second straight game.
Throwing 131 pitches didn’t seem to phase Kilponen as she did better than replicate her performance in the first game. She got the final 26 outs while allowing just three hits and one walk, striking out seven batters. Her dominance completely shut down Mizzou’s offense and allowed her own offense to get things going.
Mizzou led comfortably until a two-out rally by LSU in the top of the fourth. Taylor Pleasants drove in two runs on a single to cut the Mizzou lead to 5-4. That ended Emma Nichols’ day for Mizzou as she went 3.2 innings, allowing eight hits, one walk, and three earned runs.
Ciara Briggs then drove in two in the fifth off of reliever Megan Schumacher, and Aliyah Andrews hit an RBI infield single to increase the lead to 7-5. LSU’s lead remained the entire afternoon thanks to Kilponen’s dominance, and they tacked on five more runs in the final two innings, three being home runs.
Aliyah Andrews went 4-for-5 with 2 RBI after going 3-for-4 in the first game. Taylor Pleasants went 3-5 with 3 RBI, and Ciara Briggs went 3-4 with 2 RBI.
LSU had 18 hits to Missouri’s 7, and Megan Schumacher (8-2, 2.76 ERA) picked up the loss for Missouri. Ali Kilponen (10-4, 1.33 ERA) earned her second win of the day and threw a total of 231 pitches on Sunday, striking out 15 batters in the two games.
LSU improved to 24-13 overall and 8-7 in SEC play, while Mizzou fell to 29-9 overall and 7-5 in the SEC. Mizzou still remains fourth in the SEC standings above LSU and will take on Kansas at home on Tuesday.
Edited by Emma Moloney