COLUMBIA — Already having amassed as many Big 12 Conference losses this season as it did while finishing in third place last year and coming off consecutive conference sweeps, Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine was straight forward when discussing what his team needed to do against Texas Tech.
“Let’s not mince words or make it what it isn’t, we came here to sweep the series,” he said.
Missouri completed half of the sweep by coming from behind to defeat the Red Raiders 5-3 Saturday at University Field to improve to 3-4 in the Big 12 Conference.
“We feel like anything short of a sweep this weekend is a disappointment. We have to get back into the race and this was a series at home that feel like we can win both games if we play well, so winning the first one was just the first step in that process. I told them tomorrow if we don’t win it’ll be a disappointing weekend,” Earleywine said.
After Missouri fell behind by a run for the second time in the game in the top of the sixth inning, rarely-used third baseman Meredith Nash, who was making just her fifth start of the season, put the Tigers ahead with a two-RBI double in the bottom of the inning. Her line drive grazed the left fielder’s glove before falling to the ground.
“I was just trying to be aggressive and put the ball in play,” Nash said. “That’s about it.”
Earleywine said Nash was inserted into the lineup because regular third baseman Lindsey Ubrun’s ankle injury makes it difficult for her to play the field.
“I was really proud of her for coming up and getting that big hit and happy for her because it’s frustrating for any kid at this level, to practice as much as they practice, and then to sit the bench and not play much,” Earleywine said.
Senior Amanda Renth, who hit a solo home run to lead off the second inning, said the victory could be a turning point for the team, whose four Big 12 losses have been to No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 9 Oklahoma.
“We felt like we could come back and really get on a roll here with Texas Tech and get on the right track. I don’t think we’re out of it, I know (Texas) A&M and Oklahoma are playing this weekend, so we’ve got to keep fighting, and we’ve got a chance to finish right up there.”
Earleywine also said his team could still compete to win the Big 12, if it continues to believe it can.
“It’s always nice to come from behind. It always speaks to your character because it’s very easy, I mean we’re 2-4 in the Big 12 coming into this game, and it’s very easy to say we’re out of the race. Let’s just shut it down, it doesn’t matter anyway. So that was important for me to see them not give up,” he said.
The Tigers will face Texas Tech again at noon today at University Field.