Duke beats Missouri 4-3 in game 3 of Super Regional, advancing to first Women's College World Series

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Monday, May 27, 2024
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For the first time in school history, Duke Softball will compete in the Women's College World Series.

The decisive Super Regional matchup between Duke and Missouri needed extra innings to determine a winner.

D'Auna Jennings led off the top of the ninth inning with a home run to end a scoreless pitching duel between Cassidy Curd and Missouri's Laurin Krings and 10th-seeded Duke held on for a wild 4-3 victory over the seventh-seeded Tigers on Sunday in the finale of the best-of-three Columbia Super Regional, sending the Blue Devils to the Women's College World Series for the first time.

Both teams sent the top of their lineups to the plate in the ninth.

Jennings provided the spark Duke (52-7) needed when she sent a 1-2 pitch from Krings over the wall in right field for her ninth home run of the season. Taylor Pannell replaced Krings and retired the first two batters she faced before hitting Francesca Frelick with a pitch. Amiah Burgess followed with a triple down the right-field line to score Frelick and Ana Gold doubled home Burgess, ending Pannell's night. Kelly Torres greeted reliever Marissa McCann with a double to right, driving in the final run.

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The Tigers (48-18) rallied in the bottom of the inning. Jenna Laird and Alex Honnold led off with back-to-back singles. Curd exited in favor of Lillie Walker, who induced a ground out before yielding a two-run home run to Abby Hay - her ninth this season - on a 3-1 pitch. Walker got another groundball out before Curd re-entered looking for the final one. Kara Daly singled up the middle before Madison Walker lined out to center to end the game.

Krings (17-10) yielded three singles through a regulation seven shutout innings with three strikeouts. She retired 16 straight batters heading into the ninth inning. Curd (13-3) also surrendered three singles through seven scoreless innings, striking out seven. She retired 14 Tigers in a row at one point.

Both teams finished with seven hits and both teams collected four of them in the final inning.

The Blue Devils outhit Missouri 9-4 in a 6-3 victory in the opener. The Tigers outhit Duke 4-2 in a 3-1 win in the second game.

Duke will play next against three-time NCAA champion Oklahoma on Thursday in its opening game of the WCWS in Oklahoma City at 2:30 p.m.

Young but successful program

This is only the seventh season Duke Softball has competed at the division 1 level. Head coach Marissa Young was selected to start up the program in 2015. At the time she was as assistant coach at the University of North Carolina.

Young spent two years working to build the program before her team even took the field. The inaugural season was 2017-2018.

Young and her Blue Devils finished around .500 for the first two season. Then, the third season was canceled due to COVID-19.

Since returning from the pandemic, the Blue Devils made an NCAA regional, followed by an NCAA Super Regional, and now the Women's College World Series.