Tigers grab pivotal SEC win against Alabama

 

Emily Crane approaches home plate after her third inning home run on May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo. Crane had two hits on the night, and her home run gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead in the third inning.

Emily Crane approaches home plate after her third inning home run on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo. Crane had two hits on the night, and her home run gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead in the third inning.

Story by Sam Richmond
Photos by Sam Hustis

The No. 13 Missouri softball team kept its slim chance at a Southeastern Conference Regular Season Championship alive Thursday night, as they defeated No. 6 Alabama 8-6 on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo.

To finish with an SEC title, the Tigers (41-13, 15-7 in SEC) need to win the final two games of this weekend’s series against the Crimson Tide and have at least one Tennessee loss in its final three games against Ole Miss.

Missouri won Thursday’s back-and-forth game because of its bats, which usually isn’t the case when they send pitcher Tori Finucane to the hill. The freshman phenomenon entered the game with a 1.66 ERA, but struggled against a potent Alabama offense.

She allowed a run in each of the first two innings, which put the Tigers in an early hole. Missouri found its first lead in the third inning after an RBI single from sophomore infielder Sami Fagan and a two-run home run from sophomore outfielder Emily Crane.

The Tigers would give Finucane even more breathing room in the fifth inning when they packed on two more, due to junior infielder Angela Randazzo’s sacrifice fly and junior first baseman Kelsea Roth’s solo home run.

However, Finucane having a cushion quickly turned into a Tiger deficit, as Missouri’s 21-game winner allowed a grand slam to the Crimson Tide’s Kallie Case in the sixth inning.

But the Tiger bats just wouldn’t stop.

Missouri regained the lead in the sixth on a two-run double by freshman designated player Natalie Fleming that featured a close call at the plate when sophomore pinch runner Ashtin Stephens scored the second run.

The Tigers added one more, via an RBI groundout from sophomore center fielder Taylor Gadbois in the inning, giving Missouri an 8-6 lead heading into the seventh.

Finucane allowed a leadoff single to start the inning, but coach Ehren Earleywine stuck with his starter and the decision paid off.

Finucane eventually slammed the door shut, giving her 19 complete games this season and Missouri a huge win.

The Tigers will play under the lights again Friday, with first pitch set for 6:30 p.m. at University Field.

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