The Border War isn’t quite finished this weekend.
No. 10 seed Missouri won round one Saturday during NCAA regional action at University Field, but Kansas later survived an elimination game to set up a championship rematch.
Tigers senior shortstop Corrin Genovese helped put the Jayhawks on the ropes with a sliding stop to polish off a 5-3 victory in the winner’s bracket game.
“I’ve never seen a shortstop like her, so, when I saw that ball, I started jumping, because I knew maybe this was the end of the game,” said MU starting pitcher Tori Finucane, who struck out four and worked around nine hits and four walks in a 129-pitch complete game. “She just makes incredible plays all the time and, honestly, it never gets old.”
The Jayhawks put two runners on with two outs in the seventh inning, but Genovese gloved an Erin McGinley grounder in the hole toward the third-base line, quickly popped up from her slide and gunned the ball to second for a game-ending force out.
“It was so frustrating after I missed one earlier in that inning,” said Genovese, who came up inches short on a diving try for Shannon McGinley’s liner in shallow left one batter earlier. “I walked up to Tori and I’m like, ‘Sorry, five inches away. I’ve got to get those,’ but she had my back. … It felt good to finally make a play for her.”
Missouri’s win in front of a crowd of 1,020 was the ninth straight against KU, which has refused to schedule the Tigers in any sport since the 2012-13 season.
The bitter rivals were in the same athletic conference for more than a century from 1907-2012 before Missouri left the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference, prompting Kansas’ scheduling boycott.
NCAA postseason events have provided life support in recent years for the rivalry, which continue with a regional title game Sunday at noon.
Missouri, 41-14, needs one win Sunday to advance to the super regional, while Kansas, 40-14, must win twice.
The Tigers, who claimed six straight Border Showdown Series before the conference switch, beat the Jayhawks in regional softball action last spring and also won an NCAA regional soccer game in Lawrence during the fall.
“Every game in postseason is a rivalry game and I know Kansas is a little bittersweet,” Genovese said. “They won’t play us. There’s some issue going on there with that, so it adds a little something to it. But realistically, every game is a rivalry and we need to play everyone just like they’re a team that we hate the most and that we have so much drama with and all that.”
Senior Kelsea Roth delivered the big blow Saturday for Missouri, breaking a 3-3 tie with a line-hugging, two-run double into the left-field corner.
Kansas had led 3-2 since freshman Daniela Chavez lined a solo home run to straightaway center field with one out in the third inning.
The Tigers’ freshman phenom, Amanda Sanchez, who was questionable with an ankle injury before the regional, tied the game with an RBI single up the middle before Roth’s game-winning roller.
“They were pitching those kids away — (junior Emily) Crane, (junior Sami) Fagan and Sanchez — and they finally took what they gave them,” MU coach Ehren Earleywine said. “Then, Roth hit a ball on the ground, which is what we were trying to do on the rise ball, so smart at-bats in the fifth inning made the difference.”
Kansas and Missouri traded two-run home runs in the first inning of a game that was delayed five hours at the onset and endured a six-minute rain delay in the seventh inning.
Senior third baseman Chanin Naudin staked the Jayhawks to a 2-0 lead only to have Fagan answer in the bottom of the inning, roping a shot to right-center that Erin McGinley nearly brought back.
Kansas rebounded to win an elimination game 2-0 against Indiana State, which eliminated Louisville 2-1 in eight innings, and now gets another crack at Missouri.
“It was a long day, a really long day,” Jayhawks coach Megan Smith said. “We’ve been here for quite a while, but I think we had a good day.”
Freshman catcher Jessie Roane, who had been hitless in eight previous at-bats during the regional, broke a scoreless tie with a two-run double to left in the sixth.
“Coach always talk about, ‘Take one at-bat at a time,’” Roane said. “I can’t look at past at-bats … (but) it was amazing.”
Senior Alicia Pille, who thrown every pitch for KU in regional play, struck out seven and walked two in a two-hit shutout, her second of the regional and eighth of the season.
“There’s no fatigue this late in the season,” Pille said. “I’m just going to keep throwing as long as my team needs me.”
To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.