By RACHEL CRADER
COLUMBIA — Texas Tech’s Robyn Wike stepped into the batter’s box against Missouri pitcher Stacy Delaney in the fourth inning of Saturday’s softball game at University Field the owner of four RBI and no home runs this season.
With the bases loaded, Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine didn’t want to chance walking home a run with a .170 hitter at that plate.
“We knew that (Tigers pitcher Stacy Delaney’s) rise ball was the pitch she had the most chance of throwing a strike with, so we just kept throwing it, kept throwing it, kept throwing it hoping that the girl would pop up or strike out,” he said, “and she ran into one and hit her first home run of the year.”
As Delaney’s 3-2 pitch disappeared over the left field wall so did the Tigers’ four-run lead, leaving Earleywine, who was calling the pitches from the dugout, to question his decision.
“Those are the odds you’ve got to play sometimes,” he said, “and it’s just unfortunate, but I felt responsible for it.”
Wike’s grand slam capped off a controversial inning. Both coaches came out of their dugouts for extended periods to dispute a hit-by-pitch call that ended with a Texas Tech player being awarded first base.
“They claimed that they got the call right, and we’ll just have to see,” said Earleywine, who said he plans to watch the play on video.
The Tigers, though, wasted little time before regaining the lead. With the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the inning, second baseman Andee Allen hit a double off the center field wall.
“They weren’t taking me lightly I’m sure,” said Allen, who is batting .354 this season, “but I was going to get a good pitch to hit and luckily the first pitch was a good pitch for me, so I decided to take a hack.”
Missouri did not relinquish the lead again on its way to a 10-6 victory over the Red Raiders.
Amanda Renth drove in four runs in the game with two home runs. Renth has hit six home runs in the team’s past five games.
“I think we just know that we can come out here and score five, 10 runs a game,” said Renth, a senior infielder.. “And we’re not going to have a problem doing that. We know we can be behind our pitchers even if they make a mistake.”
Earleywine acknowledged the benefits of his balanced lineup, which now boasts three players, including Renth, tied for the conference lead with 14 home runs.
“It takes pressure off of everybody. They don’t have to carry the load,” he said.
Missouri (37-12, 4-4 in the Big 12) will host conference rival Kansas in a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
“We needed this,” Allen said about the Tigers’ sweep of Texas Tech, “it builds momentum for us. We had two midweek games which we won, but it’s different when you win against Big 12 teams.”
Jen Bruck picked up her second victory of the weekend in relief. She allowed one run in the final 3 2/3 innings.