*Release Courtesy of UIC Athletic Communications
EUGENE, Ore. – The UIC softball team (39-22) captured its first NCAA Tournament regional win since 2004 when it defeated Missouri (29-28), 5-4, Saturday at Jane Sanders Stadium. The Flames advanced to face Wisconsin (35-16) in another elimination game at the Eugene Regional, but fell short in their effort as they dropped a 2-0 decision.
The 2017 campaign comes to a close for UIC with 39 wins, the most for the program since 2005 (40).
The Flames tacked on 13 hits during the day while opponents combined for 12. Lexi Watts put up a team-best four, followed by Kayla Wedl with three, while the rest were made up by Taylor Cairns, Skylee James and Jennah Speth with two each. Of the runs scored, two were driven in by Watts, and one apiece for Wedl and Speth.
UIC 5, Missouri 4
UIC maintained the lead heading into the final inning but Missouri came out to tie the game in the seventh before the Flames rallied right back and won the game in walk-off fashion. UIC put together eight hits in the game with a team-high three from Watts, followed by Skylee James and Taylor Cairns with two apiece.
Allie Trudeau nearly dealt the complete game with 6.2 innings pitched, including five shutout frames, as she struck out two, walked two and allowed a season-high seven hits, still a minimal figure. Karissa Frazier threw the final out of the game and earned credit for the win, marking her 14th of the year.
With Mack-Miller and Speth both having their shots robbed at the wall in center, the Flames came out to second three runs in the second. The bases were loaded as Wedl earned a free base, James followed with a single to left and Willis took a four-pitch walk. With Nagle up to bat, a wild pitch allowed Wedl to come in and score UIC's first run of regionals. After Nagle walked, Watts ripped the ball into center to score two runs. Cairns would collect the fourth walk of the inning but a fielder's choice ended the inning with the bases loaded.
Mizzou threatened in the third as it placed two on with a pair of singles and moved the runners up on a fielder's choice, but both remained in scoring position.
After James was left standing on base in the third following her second hit of the game, the Flames looked to add to their total in the fourth. With two outs, Watts singled for the second time and made her way to third on a single from Cairns, but Watts was tagged out at home in a run down to end the inning.
UIC retired seven-straight Tigers before they reached on an error in the sixth and added another base runner with a walk. Mizzou then turned a double steal and ended the shutout as it singled into right to score one, narrowing the lead to 3-1.
The Tigers put up a rally in the top of the seventh to come out on top of the Flames. The leadoff batter reached on an infield single and moved around to third on a UIC error and groundout before scoring on a single up the middle. With two outs, a double into right was able to score the tying run and a single gave Mizzou the 4-3 lead.
The Flames came together when they needed to the most in their final turn at the plate. Watts and Cairns led off the inning and went back-to-back with singles before moving up on a sacrifice bunt from Mack-Miller. A groundout for Speth scored the tying run before Wedl knocked a single through the right side to score Cairns for the game-winner.
Wisconsin 2, UIC 0
It took until the ladder half of the game for either side to get going, but, unfortunately, it was Wisconsin who struck first and held on the remainder of the game. Wedl and Speth each notched two hits, with Watts adding the additional to make up UIC's total.
Frazier went the complete game in the circle and limited the Badgers to a mere four hits as she struck out one and walked two.
After six-straight retired batters, Wisconsin came away with the first run of the game in the fifth inning. With two outs, the Badgers singled for their third hit of the game, had the runner steal second and then round the bases on a single into center for the 1-0 lead.
In the sixth, Wisconsin added one run on the board as a walk, stolen base and wild pitch put a runner at third and allowed them to score on a UIC error.
The Flames scattered just three runners on base over the first six frames but came out in the seventh to make their final attempt at a comeback and put the leadoff batters on with singles for Speth and Wedl. The pair moved up on a sacrifice bunt from Soppet but ended the game left in scoring position.