Tiger softball splits two tight games to start Citrus Classic

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By Ben Burke, 23 Sports

Friday, Feb. 27 –

The No. 20 Missouri softball team kicked off their weekend in Orlando, Florida with a 3-2 loss to the No. 23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, and an 11-7 win over the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Run support played a huge role in both games of the double header for the Tigers. The first game saw Missouri pitcher Tori Finucane pick up her third loss of the year despite only allowing three runs. On the other hand, in the second game Tiger pitcher Paige Lowary remained undefeated, improving to 6-0 on the season even though she allowed 6 earned runs in 6.2 innings.

Friday was not the first time Missouri had failed to give Finucane enough run support. Finucane’s surprisingly mediocre 2-3 record this season includes a performance on Feb. 14 against UCF in which the sophomore threw 6 1/3 innings of shutout baseball until allowing a double and a single that broke the scoreless tie and gave Missouri the walk-off loss.

Notre Dame pitcher Rachel Nasland shined in Friday’s game, throwing six innings of shutout ball while only allowing two hits.

The game appeared to be slipping out of the fellow sophomore’s hands in the seventh inning. Three walks, an error, and an infield single put two runs on the board for the Tigers, and loaded the bases up with no outs.

Missouri was not able to capitalize, and Nasland calmed down to retire the side in order to give the Fighting Irish the victory. The end-of-game drama in this one was fitting of any game featuring such closely ranked squads.

The theme of the double header changed from defense in the first game to offense in the second, as both Missouri and Penn State poured on the runs.

After trailing 5-0 early, the Tigers responded by scoring 11 of the next 12 runs, including a five-run eighth inning that broke a 6-6 tie.

Back-to-back home runs by senior Angela Randazzo and freshman Amanda Sanchez highlighted the eighth for Missouri. Both Tigers had three RBI’s for the game.

Joining Randazzo and Sanchez in the three-RBI club was second basemen Sami Fagan. The junior had a two-RBI single earlier in the game that put Missouri on the board, starting the onslaught of scoring.

Even though Lowary struggled in this one, the freshman was able to find a way to get the win. This ability is vital to the early success of a young pitcher.

Another tough matchup is in store for the Tigers at the Citrus Classic when Missouri takes on No. 13 Minnesota Saturday at 12:45 p.m. The Tigers will also be taking on James Madison at 4:45 p.m.