Story by Sam Richmond
Photos by Sam Hustis
Third base Natalie Fleming hits a home run to left field in game two of the doubleheader Wednesday, March 19, 2014. She was 2-3 with 1 RBI on the day.
COLUMBIA — After coming up empty last time in a doubleheader against Kentucky, the Missouri softball team swept the Illinois State Redbirds in two games Wednesday afternoon at University Field.
Missouri freshman pitcher Tori Finucane, coming off a seven-run outing against Kentucky, responded with a fantastic pitching performance to give the Tigers the 4-2 win in game one against the Redbirds.
Finucane threw a complete game, allowing just four hits and striking out a season-high of nine batters.
The Tiger ace said she made a few adjustments following her performance against Kentucky and entered today’s game with a positive attitude.
“I was overthrowing against Kentucky,” Finucane said. “ I realized I needed to take deep breaths and spin the ball a little bit more.”
Finucane was backed by second basemen Ashtin Stephens, who batted in all four Tiger runs in the game.
The sophomore singled home a run in the second inning; doubled in two more to break a 1-1 tie in the fourth, and plated the last run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the sixth inning.
Coach Ehren Earleywine had high praise for Stephens following the game.
“It was a great game for Ashtin,” Earleywine said. “She was the MVP of the game.”
Stephens went hitless in game two but it didn’t matter. Missouri’s other freshman pitcher, Casey Stangel, one-upped Finucane by pitching a complete-game shutout and the Tigers won 5-0. Stangel lowered ERA to the sub -2.00 mark with her performance (1.90).
Earleywine said he’s pleased with how Stangel has developed this season.
“She’s starting to actually pitch, instead of just throw,” he said.
Stangel’s run support in the contest began in the second inning with a home run by third basemen Natalie Fleming and an RBI single by shortstop Corrin Genovese.
The Tigers added another run in the fifth thanks to a single by Emily Crane. Missouri plated two more insurance runs in the sixth inning from a double by Genovese.
While Earleywine’s squad took two games Wednesday, he said wasn’t entirely pleased with his team’s play during the windy afternoon.
“I didn’t like our enthusiasm level,” he said. “It just seemed like we were flat. You’re 20 years old, you don’t have a job, act like you want to be here.”
The Tigers’ next chance to have fun comes on Friday when they take on Ball State at 4:30 p.m. in University field.
Natalie Fleming is met at home plate by her teammates after hitting a home run in game two of the doubleheader on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. Fleming is hitting .467 on the year.
Pitcher Tori Finucane talks with catcher Kirsten Mack and pitching coach Pete D’Armour in-between innings during game one of the doubleheader on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. Finucane pitched a complete game, only allowing two earned runs while striking out nine.
Missouri Coach Ehren Earleywine bundled up for his third base coaching duties Wednesday, March 19, 2014.
Fans bundled up for the doubleheader on Wednesday, March 19. 2014 at Taylor Stadium, as the game time temperature for game one was 42F.
Pitcher Casey Stangel fixes her hair before a pitch during the second game of the doubleheader. High winds were present for both games on the afternoon.