COLUMBIA — After his team advanced to the Super Regional round of the NCAA tournament for the first time last season, it would seem Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine would be relaxed about the start of the new season.
But Earleywine says he is troubled.
“My biggest dilemma this year is, I really, honestly, feel like I have 13 or 14 kids who can start for us, and practice has been good," Earleywine said Thursday. "It’s been great in terms of competition because of that, but at the same time it’s making my job really hard."
Every player on the Missouri roster will get a chance to play in front of fans for the first time this year at 2 p.m. Saturday when the team hosts its annual Black and Gold game.
The 11-inning intrasquad game, which is free to attend, is scheduled to take place at University Field but will be moved indoors to Dan Devine Pavilion in the case of inclement weather.
Returners from last year's 47-17 team include All-American centerfielder Rhea Taylor, who stole a Big 12 Conference record 57 bases a year ago, and All Big-12 second baseman Andee Allen.
Freshman pitcher Chelsea Thomas, who Earleywine said may throw harder than any pitcher in the country, is expected to spend a lot of time in the circle for Missouri this season.
The Tigers are scheduled to begin their season on Feb. 14 with games against Evansville and Virginia Tech at the Georgia State First Pitch Classic in Atlanta.