COLUMBIA – It was obvious coach Ehren Earleywine wasn’t happy with his team’s performance Saturday.
After the final out in the Missouri softball team's 14th annual Black and Gold game, Earleywine had a long talk with his players, then sent them running laps around University Field.
“We’ve been keeping tally of the mental mistakes that we’re making after every intrasquad and every game we play,” Earleywine said. “There came a point where they weren’t reducing at the rate I felt like they should be reducing at, so I said from now on there are going to be some repercussions.”
Earleywine said he was disappointed in his team’s lack of effort, and that some of his players need to step up their intensity.
“The great thing from a coaching perspective is that if we got kids who aren’t wanting to get dirty on the field, there are some kids on the bench who are going to want to,” Earleywine said. “So nobody’s job’s safe if they’re going to loaf around like that.”
But Earleywine also said there were some highlights that came out of the scrimmage. Redshirt senior Micaela Minner was one of the players he noted.
Earleywine said Minner has been struggling with her hitting in practice, and that he changed her stance Saturday.
“We moved her off the plate today, and she was lights out,” Earleywine said. “If that’s a sign of things to come that could be a big time adjustment for this program.”
Minner finished with one of the two home runs hit on Saturday, but wasn’t satisfied. Never shy to give her opinion, Minner said she was convinced she was robbed of another home run earlier in the game when a ball went just foul down the first base line.
“I think it was a home run,” Minner said. “The wind took it after it was already in the golf course, so I’m thinking that I had two home runs on the day.”
On defense, freshman pitcher Chelsea Thomas was impressive, recording three strikeouts and allowing just two hits, two walks and one run in seven innings. That kind of performance didn’t go unnoticed by her teammates.
“(Thomas) is going to be the foundation, I think, of a lot of our success,” Minner said.
With Minner’s hitting and Thomas’ pitching, the two led the Black team to a 7-2 win over the Gold team.
Earleywine said it was a productive scrimmage and despite his annoyance with his players’ mental errors, he said he feels the team is ready to begin the season and challenge some of the country’s top teams.
“We’re at a point in our program now where we’re not trying to necessarily beat the mid-tier teams,” Earleywine said. “We’re trying to beat the teams in the top 10.”
Some of Earleywine’s players have even higher goals for the season.
“I expect us to win the Big 12 and I expect us to get to the World Series,” Minner said.
Thomas said she agreed with Minner and won’t settle for any less.
“We’re supposed to be No. 2 in the Big 12, but that’s not going to happen, that’s not an option,” she said.
The Tigers’ journey to achieve those goals begins in Georgia, where they open the 2009 season with a tournament starting on Valentine’s Day.