Duke softball wins first Super Regional game against Missouri as Curd pitches dominant outing

Cassidy Curd pitched 5.1 scoreless innings against Missouri.
Cassidy Curd pitched 5.1 scoreless innings against Missouri.

COLUMBIA, Mo.,—No home-field advantage, no problem.

In front of a sellout crowd in Colombia, Mo., No. 10-seed Duke took down No. 7-seed Missouri 6-3 in the first game of Super Regionals. The Blue Devils were powered in the circle by a 5.1-inning, no-hit performance from sophomore Cassidy Curd, and four different players picked up RBIs at the plate.

“I’m obviously really excited and proud of this team to make another first step in program history: winning our first win at a Super Regional,” head coach Marissa Young said after the game. “Mizzou [is a] top team, they're really resilient, and playing in this environment was great for us. [I] just love to see the way the team competed.”

A back-and-forth start gave way to a far cleaner midgame, as neither team scored for two consecutive innings. It was Duke who finally broke the dam, as sophomore Aminah Vega roped a double off the wall in left center to score senior Claire Davidson. Pinch runner Aleyah Terrell scored just a few pitches later, as she acrobatically avoided a tag at the plate to give the Blue Devils a two-run cushion.

From there, Curd filled up the zone and sat down Missouri's lineup, retiring eight straight batters. Curd’s dominance in the circle helped quell what was an initially fired up home crowd, as she grew increasingly comfortable as the game went on. By the time she sat the Tigers down for the final time, the Port St. Lucie, Fla., native had eight strikeouts.

Part of the reason for Curd’s success was the different looks she gave the Tigers compared to starter Jala Wright. Both Young and Missouri head coach Larissa Anderson said that the difference between Wright — who mainly pitches down in the zone — and Curd — who attacks hitters high — was a major reason for the game’s outcome.

Duke picked up one more insurance run in the seventh, as sophomore D’Auna Jennings scored on a nifty first-and-third play. In total, the Blue Devils tallied six runs on nine hits against a Tigers pitching staff with a combined ERA of 1.98.

“Every day, somebody different shows up and steps up in big moments,” Young said of the depth of the Duke lineup. “I think that our coaching staff does a phenomenal job of preparing our team for what's to come, making sure that the people off the bench are ready to go and they are so excited for their number to be called and really do a job for their teammates.”

The Blue Devils turned to ace pitcher Jala Wright to start in the circle. The senior did not allow a run in 13.2 innings pitched in the Durham Regional, but it did not take the Tigers long to change that.

After striking out the first batter she faced, Wright gave up an infield single to senior Alex Honnold. The Missouri center fielder advanced to second after a throwing error, and senior second baseman Maddie Gallagher drove her in just a few pitches later. A missed tag on a steal, a walk and a dropped third strike applied even more pressure and set up a bases-loaded jam. However, sophomore shortstop Jada Baker was there to help her pitcher out, as she flashed some leather to make a tough play for the third and final out of the frame.

The Tigers’ lead didn’t last for long, as the Blue Devils wasted no time getting back on top. After senior catcher Kelly Torres registered the first Duke hit down the left-field line, senior Francesca Frelick hit one in the same direction about 100 feet further, clearing the fence for her seventh home run of the season.

Duke was not done in the second, though, as Jennings placed one right between Missouri’s center and right fielders and raced all the way to third. The triple also scored freshman Amiah Burgess, bringing the Blue Devils’ tally to three for the inning.

The Tigers continued to pounce on Wright in their half of the second, as senior Jenna Laird sliced a double down the right-field line to score one. Laird stole third a few batters later, and a ground ball was enough to bring her home and tie the game.

Wright’s day came to an end after another walk, and Young turned to Curd in relief. The southpaw got out of the jam with a pop up, but Missouri came right back with runners in scoring position in the third. To get out of that one, Curd picked up her 301st career strikeout — she got her 300th an inning earlier.

“Coach Young and I had conversations prior to this about how, throughout this year, I've done a lot of kind of trying to be perfect on the field. And that's not how I play my best,” Curd said of her mindset in the circle. “She gave me the freedom to just play loose and play free and go in there.”

The two teams will be back at it tomorrow at 1 p.m. in an elimination game for the Tigers. Duke has the chance to advance to its first Women’s College World Series in program history, in just its seventh year of existence.

Dom Fenoglio | Sports Managing Editor

Dom Fenoglio is a Trinity junior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume.


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