COLUMBIA — One season removed from earning Big 12 Conference Freshman of the Year honors, frustration was on the verge of burying Trevor Coleman. A switch-hitting catcher with power and a rocket arm, the sophomore from Dripping Springs, Texas, has not known many struggles in his short time with the Missouri baseball team, but this year even his best swings have only seemed to earn him trips back to the dugout. He brooded over it, pressed, and let it affect his game before finally letting it go.
“The first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging,” Coleman said, explaining that fighting his slump had only made it worse.
For Coleman and his teammates, Sunday afternoon would have been a good time to see the payoff of the philosophical change.
With the Tigers losing to Oklahoma State by two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Coleman took his place in the left-handed batter’s box, his bat waggling in anticipation. Moments later, the crowd rose to its feet, and the rest of the Tigers to the top step of the dugout, everyone short of those wearing orange imploring the ball to continue its flight. Coleman had crushed a ball to right-center field, and if baseball weren’t such a heartbreaking game, perhaps it would have gone on out. Though it wouldn’t have won the game, or even tied it, there is little doubt it would have provided Missouri the spark it so desperately needed. Instead, the ball landed harmlessly in an outfielder’s glove, inches from escaping the park.
With one out remaining and the hopes deflated, Steve Gray, in a season-long slump of his own before smashing two home runs to keep the score close, struck out to end the game, sending the Tigers home with an 8-6 loss, one of several the team has endured of late.
As the fans filed out of the stadium, everyone wondered what on earth is wrong with the mighty Missouri Tigers, once ranked No. 2 in the nation by Baseball America. No one had any answers after the game, players and fans alike. Missouri coach Tim Jamieson pointed out that it was all probably just a confidence problem, but mentioned that with a record of 22-8 overall and 5-4 in the conference they were still in good shape. Starting pitcher Kyle Gibson, after an uncharacteristically poor performance, said that he really just didn’t know what was wrong with the team, but that the players are still working hard. Trevor Coleman, when asked, talked about struggle.
“One thing you can’t do to try and get out of a slump is to try and get out of a slump,” he said. “You’ve just got to let it work like a virus, and let it run its course, and know in the end that you’ll be fine.”