COLUMBIA — After Missouri defeated Oklahoma State Friday, MU softball coach Ehren Earleywine was concerned that his team might relapse into last season’s bad habit and relax against the Cowgirls in Saturday’s finale.
But Stacy Delaney wasn’t on the team last season. The Michigan transfer delivered a dominating performance on the mound, allowing just one hit in seven innings while striking out eight.
Missouri won 3-0 and improved its conference record to 2-0.
“It feels really good,” Delaney said of her performance. “This is my first Big 12 game, and I just kind of went in there with a plan and stuck to the plan , and it worked out good today.”
MU coach Ehren Earleywine had high praise for his pitcher.
“I just thought it was a masterpiece because (Delaney) doesn’t throw too hard so she has to rely heavy on changing speeds and hitting spots, and she did it for seven innings,” he said. “The thing liked most about her outing was she kept the ball in the strike zone, and she made them put it in play. We made a lot of plays behind her, played sound defense, and it gave us a chance to win.”
Missouri’s defense did not commit an error in the game while Oklahoma State comitted two. The Tigers also made some impressive plays in the field. Third baseman Lindsey Ubrun raced in from her position to make a juggling catch on a bunted ball just feet from home plate to begin the game and shortstop Abby Vock was acknowledged by the 343 fans in attendance for her improbable snare of a line drive in the seventh.
“You can always pitch confident when your defense is doing the work behind you,” Delaney said.
Oklahoma State pitcher Anna Whiddon started the game pitching with confidence as well. She struck out five Missouri hitters in the first two innings. However, senior Amanda Renth’s only hit of the day scored two runs in the third inning after a one-out bunt single by left fielder Julie Silver and a walk to Jen Bruck.
“It felt good for me to get those two runs in. I’d been struggling a little bit,” said Renth, who didn’t have a hit in Friday’s series opener.
The offense’s early struggles worried Earleywine.
“I was a little concerned there early on (with) all the swings and misses and, in addition to that, we were taking a lot of good pitches,” he said. “But one of the returning signs of our team that they continually do over and over is make adjustments. That second time through the lineup they all made adjustments and put the bat on the ball and made something happen and we were able to scratch a few runs.”
Earleywine said the series sweep left the team with a good feeling.
“So much of what we do in this sport is based around having a good feeling,” he said. “You know, if you leave the batting cage, you want to leave on a good feeling. If you leave the bullpen, you want to be comfortable, and going out of the weekend 2-0 we have a comfortable, confident feel about us.”
That confidence, he said, is also the result of his team’s well-balanced talents.
“We don’t feel like we have to press to win,” he said. “We have a lot of options to win. We’re fast, we hit for power, we play pretty good defense and we’re three-deep pitching, so I think we have a good chance to be competitive.”
The Tigers will play Texas-San Antonio on Tuesday and Wednesday in San Antonio before traveling to College Station, Texas, to face No. 7 Texas A&M.