Missouri staged a three-run, seventh-inning rally on Saturday against Illinois-Chicago in an NCAA softball regional elimination game in Eugene, Ore.
But Tigers sophomore pitcher Madi Norman, a Louisville transfer, wasn’t able to protect the lead as the Flames mounted their own seventh-inning rally for a 5-4 victory.
Before that, Mizzou freshmen Cayla Kessinger and Braxton Burnside were poised to be the game’s heroes.
The Tigers trailed 3-1 and already had a run in courtesy of senior Natalie Fleming’s RBI single, which drove home freshman Gabby Garrison after she opened the inning with an infield single.
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Down to potentially the season’s final out, Kessinger socked a game-tying RBI double to deep right-center and scored on Burnside’s roller up the middle.
Norman, who entered to start the fourth inning as the Tigers’ third pitcher of the game, had scattered two hits and a walk in three shutout innings, but she couldn’t douse the Flames and close out the win.
Two leadoff singles and a sacrifice bunt moved the winning run into scoring position.
UIC freshman Jennah Speth’s ground-out to second re-tied the game before freshman Kayla Wedl grounded a single off Burnside’s glove in the hole at shortstop for the winning run.
Mizzou, 29-28, was seeded second in the regional, but was relegated to the elimination round with Friday’s loss against Wisconsin.
It’s the first time the Tigers finished a regional 0-2 since 2004 and the first time the program failed to win a postseason game since failing to make the NCAA tourney in 2006.
The Flames, 39-21, jumped in front with a three-run second inning.
MU senior starting pitcher Cheyenne Baxter issued a pair of one-out walks sandwiched around a single before a wild pitch started the scoring.
Sophomore Danielle Baumgartner replaced Baxter and promptly reloaded the bases with another walk before sophomore Illinois-Chicago Lexi Watts slashed a two-run single.
Baumgartner worked around an illegal pitch and another walk later in the inning to avoid further damage.
The Tigers went to Norman, who steadied the ship.
Mizzou pulled a run back in the sixth inning on sophomore Kolby Romaine’s RBI single, setting the stage for the dramatic seventh.