Softball loses series finale to No. 3 LSU

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By Joey Gjata, 23 Sports

Monday, April 28—

No. 15 Mizzou softball was unable to secure a home sweep of No. 3 LSU on Monday night, losing 9-0 in five innings.

However, freshman southpaw Paige Lowary was honored with the SEC Co-Freshman of the Week award prior to the game.

She went 3-0 in the past week to improve her record to 16-3 and also threw 24 strikeouts, allowing only two runs in 21 innings of work.

Lowary garnered wins against Iowa, Missouri State and No. 3 LSU to extend her winning streak to eight consecutive games. In the last week she has amassed an incredible 0.67 ERA. The award marks her second SEC weekly honor this year. She was named SEC Pitcher of the Week back on Feb. 23.

But on Monday, the Tigers from Baton Rouge tallied a five-run third inning on Lowary thanks to first baseman Sandra Simmons’ three-run shot.

From there, LSU was able to put the game out of reach and avoid a potentially disastrous sweep at University Field.

Lowary made her third straight appearance of the series and looked exceptional in the first two innings. However, a double down the line followed by a hard hit RBI single by Bailey Landry scored A.J. Andrews for the 1-0 lead.

Lowary walked and hit the next two batters to load the bases. LSU catcher Kellsi Kloss registered an RBI sac-fly to double the lead for the visitors.

Simmons then put a crooked number on the board with a soaring three-run homer to extend the lead to 5-0. The Mizzou ace lost some composure in that frame in terms of placement and velocity, and the LSU batters took full of advantage.

However, in the bottom half of the third, Missouri threatened to pull a few back. A walk to Natalie Flemming followed by an Emily Crane double down the left field line put ducks on the pond for the home side.

LSU ace Carley Hoover secured her 1.50 ERA by retiring the middle of the Tiger lineup—Sami Fagan, Amanda Sanchez and Kirsten Mack—in order to keep the hosts at bay. That proved to be it for the Mizzou offense on the evening as Hoover retired six out of the final seven batters she saw.

Lowary, on the other hand, settled down in the fourth but found herself in a jam once again in the fifth. Head coach Ehren Earleywine pulled the freshman when the bases were loaded with no outs.

Sophomore Cheyenne Baxter entered the contest in relief with a 2.24 ERA to her name. Nevertheless, LSU brought all three runs home through timely hitting and a home run courtesy of shortstop Bianka Bell.

Going into the bottom of the inning down 9-0, Missouri needed runs to avoid a run-rule defeat. Flemming reached base with just one out, but the Tigers failed to bring her home.

Despite the run-rule loss, Mizzou still clinched the series against a rival Sunday afternoon. Also, the series victory more than likely solidifies the Tigers as a top 25 team, regardless of the outcome of the season.

Currently No. 15 in the nation, Mizzou has been ranked in the Top 25 in the USA Today/NCFA poll every week for the past seven seasons, dating back to June 2008. The streak stands at over 2,500 consecutive days of ranked position.

With individual and team honors coming in, Missouri finds itself in an excellent position to make a postseason run.

Before the team travels down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana for the SEC Tournament, it will play host to Northern Iowa and Florida in the next five days.

The action kicks off with a midweek doubleheader at University Field against Northern Iowa with first pitch set for 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

For all the latest on Mizzou Softball, follow the team on twitter @MizzouSoftball.