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Mizzou softball swept again, kept out of SEC tourney

May 7, 2018

With a 7-4 loss to No. 4 Florida in Sunday’s regular-season finale, the Missouri softball team failed to make the 12-team field for this week’s SEC tournament in Columbia, meaning the last-place Tigers (28-27, 6-17 SEC) will serve as tournament hosts at Mizzou Softball Stadium without playing in the single-elimination event. The tournament begins Wednesday.

Regular-season champion Florida (47-8, 20-4) is the No. 1 seed and earned a first-round bye, along with No. 2 Georgia, No. 3 South Carolina and No. 4 Tennessee. Louisiana State is the fifth seed, followed by Texas A&M, Arkansas, Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. The championship game is Saturday at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN2. Here’s a look at the full bracket.

Trying to avoid a second straight sweep in SEC play, Mizzou held a 4-1 lead through four innings Sunday and led 4-3 in the seventh but couldn’t record the final three outs against the Gators. Mizzou reliever Danielle Baumgartner (1-1) hit a batter, walked another then gave up a game-tying one-run single to begin the inning. Next up, Kayli Kvistad drilled a three-run homer to give the Gators the lead. The Tigers went down in order in their half of the inning against UF’s Aleshia Ocasio (18-6).

With a .500 record and a strong strength of schedule, Mizzou could still qualify for an at-large selection in the NCAA tournament when the field of 64 is announced next Sunday.

“We’re hurting and obviously disappointed with how this one turned out today,” MU interim coach Gina Fogue told reporters after the loss. “Our pitchers kept battling and we were a couple outs away from stealing this one, but it wasn’t meant to be. I told our group that our season isn’t done, as we have to focus and prep for the potential NCAA Tournament. Still a lot ahead of us.”

A year ago Mizzou just squeezed into the SEC tournament as the No. 11 seed with a 7-16 league record then lost its first-round game to LSU. The Tigers advanced to an 11th straight NCAA regional under coach Ehren Earleywine but were quickly eliminated in their NCAA regional in Eugene, Ore., losing to Wisconsin and Illinois-Chicago and finished 29-28. Earleywine was fired two weeks before the start of this season, leading MU to promote Fogue to the interim role.