Missouri senior shortstop Corrin Genovese is trying not to think about the end despite the fact that she’s down to her final handful of games.
“It didn’t hit me last weekend until I looked in the outfield in the middle of a game when we were playing Kansas and I saw my mom (Karen),” Genovese said.
For a fleeting moment, Genovese, a native of East Amherst, N.Y., realized that those moments would be finished soon.
“Up until that point, I didn’t think about anything other than … winning, but it kind of took me back for a second,” she said. “I want to win for my team, but I also wanted to win for her and my dad (Tony), because they’ve been my biggest supporters. That was my one moment of weakness, where I let that get to me that this could be it.”
The Tigers, 42-14, cruised through the Columbia regional, which they hosted at University Field, and advanced to the NCAA super regional round.
No. 10 seed Missouri plays at No. 7 UCLA, 48-10, in a best-of-three series beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPNU.
With two wins against the Bruins, the Tigers would reach the Women’s College World Series for the first time since three straight appearances from 2009-11.
“That would be the best thing that’s happened to me in my life so far,” Genovese said. “We’ve been training for multiple years now to get to this point and, for me, that would be as good as it gets.
“There’s no big leagues for softball, so the big leagues is the SEC conference. If we could get to the (Women’s) College World Series, that would be the dream and everything I lived for competing every day and working out every day. I think it’s time to get rewarded.”
Missouri stubbed its toe early in the season against UCLA during an error-filled 8-0 run rule loss in six innings Feb. 20 during the Mary Nutter Classic in suburban Los Angeles.
Genovese is confident that things will be different this weekend.
“I never had a doubt that we would make it out of regionals and I still have no doubt we’re going to make it out of supers,” Genovese said. “But that’s how it has to be. You can’t play scared or do anything other give your best.”
The Tigers hadn’t faced much top-level pitching during the first meeting with the Bruins, but still matched UCLA’s seven hits in the game.
“That was the first tournament where we saw really good pitching, and we did not hit well,” Genovese said. “Now, the SEC has prepared us.”
She also believes Missouri has nothing to lose.
“The pressure’s completely on UCLA, because they’re the top-seeded team between us and we’re at their place,” Genovese said. “They’re the ones from California and get all the best recruits, so the pressure’s on them, because it’s pretty much a letdown if you let a team from the Midwest come and take two out of three from you.”
Genovese said freshman lefthander Paige Lowary, who was limited by illness to 1 1/3 innings during regional play, is feeling fine and eager to face UCLA.
Lowary didn’t pitch in that early-season loss. Sophomore ace Tori Finucane also ironed out a kink in her delivery this week in practice.
“Tori’s pitching better than when she faced (UCLA) the first time …,” Genovese said. “She worked on something with her windup this week in practice and right now she’s throwing heat.”
Add it all up and Genovese believes Missouri could be in line for a repeat of 2009 when the Tigers beat the Bruins on the road in super-regional action.
“That means a lot to us that our own program has done that in the past …,” Genovese said. “I’m very confident, because we’re playing our best softball right now and we’re all healthy. I’m really excited for this weekend. We’re going to go out in style.”