COLUMBIA — For Missouri catcher Trevor Coleman, the hardest thing about missing the past three weeks with a broken throwing hand was watching the Tigers lose to Texas in Sunday’s Big 12 title game.
“You come to Missouri and you come to win a Big 12 tournament title,” Coleman said. “Not being able to participate in that was nerve racking at times.”
Coleman hopes to return at 3 p.m. on Friday when Missouri, a No. 2 seed, plays Western Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA regional in Oxford, Mississippi. Coleman seems pretty confident that he can return to the starting lineup.
“Hopefully, I’ll be ready for Friday,” Coleman said. “That’s the goal.”
Coleman had two pins surgically removed from the injured hand last Thursday and immediately started trying to get his arm back in shape . Coleman plans to test out his arm, his swing and catching abilities in a scrimmage Tuesday.
“Throwing is a concern, but I think hitting is the biggest concern,” Coleman said.
While backup Ryan Ampleman has done a good job replacing Coleman, coach Tim Jamieson said Coleman handles the pitching staff in a completely different way than Ampleman and that’s to the Tigers advantage to have on the field when the NCAA tournament starts.
“Trevor has been around the block, and he’s also caught in two regionals,” Jamieson said. “We need him to be on the field to give us our best chance of winning."
Jamieson also hopes that Coleman can jump start a lineup that only had four hits each in its final three Big 12 tournament games.
“When we were playing our best baseball, the offense was really clicking and then Trevor got hurt,” Jamieson said. “(Ampleman) did a great job and we managed to win games, but we weren’t playing as well as we were before Trevor got hurt.”
Jamieson said he doesn’t know a whole lot about the Hilltoppers other than what he remembers from his days playing baseball at the University of New Orleans.
“I know I hit a home run against them in 1980 in a regional,” Jamieson said.
This year Western Kentucky won the Sun Belt conference regular season title, going 39-18 in the regular season.
As of Monday morning, Jamieson hadn’t made a decision whether to throw ace Kyle Gibson on Friday or to save him for a potential matchup with top-seeded Ole Miss on Saturday.
In last year’s regional, Missouri played Ole Miss twice. The Tigers beat them 5-0 in the first game thanks to a shutout by pitcher Aaron Crow. But the Rebels later eliminated Missouri with a 9-6 win.
Mississippi shared the regular season SEC crown with LSU but was eliminated from the SEC tournament after losing both of its games.
The other team in the regional, Monmouth (32-23), finished fourth in the Northeast conference regular season but won the conference tournament this past weekend to earn the conference’s only bid.