MU softball splits doubleheader

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 8:40 p.m. CST; updated 12:36 a.m. CST, Thursday, March 5, 2009

COLUMBIA — The Missouri softball team scored two runs in two games Wednesday against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville at University Field. Sixteen runners were stranded on base.

The result was one win and one loss against a team Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said his hitters should have been expecting to pad their statistics against.

“If you treat this team the way you treat the best teams in your conference, in terms of your focus and your concentration, I think the hits come through today," Earleywine said.

No. 12 Missouri won the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader 2-0 thanks to freshman Chelsea Thomas's fifth shutout victory. Thomas (6-2) allowed three hits in her seven innings in the circle.

The Tigers' runs came when freshman first baseman Ashley Fleming hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning.

It was Missouri which was shut out in the second game, losing 2-0 after SIU-Edwardsville score its first runs off Tiger pitching in the top of the final inning.

"The unfortunate thing is that we talk about it before the game the importance of respecting your opponent, and every pitcher is capable of getting you out if you’re not concentrating," Earleywine said.

He had no problem identifying the reason for Missouri's atypical offensive struggle.

“A lack of discipline, especially from the kids that we count on the most," Earleywine said. "It was very disappointing. Big players are supposed to get big hits, and our big players had numerous opportunities to drive runs in, and they just didn’t come through. To me, it’s about giving at-bats away because of lack of discipline."

Junior Gina Schneider, who had three hits on Wednesday, had a similar explanation.

“I think we just weren’t patient," Schneider said. "We were swinging at bad pitches, we were pulling outside pitches. We weren’t patient."

Schneider leads the team with 16 hits, which is one more than her previous high for an entire season. It is a dramatic improvement she and Earleywine attribute to the simplest of adjustments — holding her hands about four inches lower than she had in the past while waiting for a pitch.

After the game, some Missouri players left the dugout area to quietly visit with friends and family who attended the games, but several headed back to the batting cages located down the first base line and another headed to the bullpen to get in some work.

“The good side is that this is happening in the first 15 games," said Earleywine. "The hope is that it doesn’t continue.”

Missouri (14-3) will travel to Springfield this weekend to take part in the All-Missouri Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament. Missouri will face Missouri-Kansas City, Southeast Missouri State, Saint Louis and Missouri State over three days of play.

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