COLUMBIA — It's not often that a leadoff single earns a player a go-ahead RBI, but that's what happened in the Missouri softball team's loss to Texas on Saturday at University Field.
The teams were deadlocked at one entering the third extra inning of play when an unique rule kicked in. Called the International Tiebreaker Rule, it sends the last batter to make an out in the previous inning to second base beginning in the 10th inning.
Missouri (25-4, 0-1 in the Big 12) vs. Texas (23-10, 1-0)
WHERE: University Field
The Longhorns took advantage when the first player to bat for Texas in the 1oth inning singled to center field off relief pitcher Stacy Delaney, scoring the runner placed on second base and propelling Texas to a 6-2 victory.
Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said he thought his team had plenty of chances to win the game before the rule came into play, but he has never liked it.
“I’m not a fan of it. I say you play the game, especially in conference play. It’s too important to start putting runners on base. Let us play the game out," Earleywine said.
The Tigers left runners on base in six different innings, including three of the last four. In all, Missouri stranded 11 runners.
“We had a lot of chances to win that game. Probably four or five innings in a row, we had runners in scoring position and nobody got the big hit," Earleywine said. "It just boiled down to that. We just need one person to step up and get one hit. We let them hang around too long and they took advantage.”
A failed squeeze play in the bottom of the seventh inning ended what was Missouri's best chance to win the game. With Shana White and Rhea Taylor, the two fastest players on Missouri's roster, on base, Earleywine called for a bunt.
"The pitcher had been keeping the ball down all day, and I just thought it was a perfect opportunity to bunt one on the ground. ... Sure enough, the pitcher threw one in the dirt and it was unbuntable, so it just kind of ended up being a botched play, but that’s the way it goes.”
The loss dropped Missouri to 25-4 overall and 0-1 in Big 12 Conference play, disappointing for a team set on winning the conference title this season.
“That’s the thing about conference, you’re not going to win every game," said Taylor, who was 3-for-5 on Saturday. "Yeah we’re mad … about losing, but we’ve just to come back tomorrow ready to play.”
Earleywine said that was his message to the team after the loss.
“One game doesn’t make our conference season," he said. "We’re good enough to come back, but we will see what this Missouri softball team is made of tomorrow when they come back.”
BIG CROWD: The stands at University Field were nearly full on Saturday with 679 fans willing to sit through windy conditions and chilly temperatures to watch the game. That total was bigger than any crowd last season.
“It made us all feel good that they’re recognizing what we’re doing," Earleywine said. "I’ve said it before, but I know the people in Missouri, and they say you put a good product on the field and we’ll come and watch you.
"It just breaks my heart that we had to disappoint them today because they deserved for us to win, and when they come out like that in droves, you’ve got to satisfy them and play good softball. We didn’t, so that’s our fault, and we’ll have to earn their respect back.”