COLUMBIA — The Missouri softball team did something on Wednesday that it had not done all season.
San Diego Classic I Schedule
Friday, Feb. 27
No. 12 Missouri (10-0) vs. Oregon
Saturday, Feb. 28
Missouri vs. Santa Clara
Missouri vs. San Diego State
Sunday, March 1
Missouri vs. No. 4 UCLA (14-2)
Missouri vs. San Diego
As Saint Louis University's Nicki Jost's fourth-inning home run sailed over the left field fence giving the Billikens a one-run lead, Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine was far from panicked.
“I was glad when we got behind," Earleywhine said. "You know, win, lose or draw, I just thought it would be a good opportunity for us to actually play with some competition because so far we’ve been chasing people out of the stadium. It was good, and our girls responded well."
The Tigers scored three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning and pulled away for a 7-2 victory at Univesity Field.
No. 12 Missouri (10-0) is off to its best start since 1992 and has shut out its opponents six times.
Freshman pitcher Chelsea Thomas (5-0) threw her third shutout in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader, which the Tigers won 12-0 in five innings in their first home game of the season.
“I felt really good. I feel like my arm’s totally in shape, and I’ve been throwing a lot of the games over the weekend," Thomas said. "I’m working on mixing it up a little bit, mixing speeds up. I thought that went better today."
Thomas, primarily a dropball pitcher who relied on her speed to overpower hitters, has had to make adjustments in college.
“I really have never had a changeup because in high school I never really needed to," she said. "But now after we go through the lineup once they get on the hard stuff, so you’ve got to have something to throw them off balance.”
Earleywine has already told Thomas she will get the ball when Missouri faces No. 4 UCLA on Sunday, one of five games the Tigers will play in San Diego this weekend at San Diego Classic.
Earleywine said the team will have to cut down on mistakes in base running and making better plays in the outfield if they want to pull off the upset.
“It’s always good to win, but for me it’s more about how we’re playing. We’ve still got three or four things that we’re not great at. This weekend those things will get exposed," he said.
“We’re playing good softball for this early in the season, and (making) a lot fewer mistakes than we were making this time last year, so we’re ahead of the curve and I’m proud of them, but we’ve still got work to do.”
Gina Schneider was 4-for-4 with 3 RBI on the day and second baseman was 4-for-7 with a two-run home run.
TAYLOR READY: All-American centerfielder Rhea Taylor was an observer on Wednesday. She has not played in the team's last seven games with strained hip flexor and groin, but Earleywine said she will be ready to play this weekend.
“She actually could’ve played both games today. She actually even could have played probably this past weekend, but (we) sat her out all weekend and sat her out today just for precautionary measures," Earleywine said, "making sure she’s able to play when it counts in the Big 12 and postseason play.”