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.
Alabama pitcher Jaclyn Traina warms up before playing Missouri on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo. Traina had 99 career wins entering Thursday’s game
Jaydyn Spencer grounds into a controversial inning-ending double play in the first inning on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo.
University of Missouri students brave the cold to spell out MIZZOU in body paint over the left field wall on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo. The temperature at the start of the game was 52 degrees.
Alabama left fielder Kallie Case tries to catch a home run hit over the left field wall by Missouri right fielder Emily Crane on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo.
Alabama coach Patrick Murphy watches left fielder Kallie Case run towards her teammates at home plate after she hit a grand slam in the fifth inning on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo. Her grand slam gave Alabama the lead 6-5.
Missouri pitcher Tori Finucane hugs Corrin Genovese after recording the final out on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo. The Tigers will play Bradley University in the second game of the NCAA softball regional held at University Field on Friday at 4:00 p.m.
Missouri pinch runner Ashtin Stephens slides past the tag of Alabama catcher Molly Fichtner to give the Tigers a one run lead in the sixth inning on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo.
Missouri Athletic Director Mike Alden (yellow hoodie) watches the Missouri softball team from the left field stands on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo.
Taylor Gadbois slides home to score the first run for the Tigers on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at University Field in Columbia, Mo. Sami Fagan was credited for the RBI with a single to second base.
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.