MU softball pitcher Chelsea Thomas was fatigued. During the third game of a three game series between No. 2 Alabama and No. 9 Missouri, she had soreness in her legs throughout the game, but it did not keep her from getting the job done Sunday at the Alabama Softball Complex.
"If you were a bystander you wouldn't be able to tell she was tired," said MU head softball coach Ehren Earleywine by phone. "She was able to beat Alabama twice, and that is a very good sign."
Coming off a great performance in Game 1, Thomas shined again. In Sunday's game, Thomas threw a five-inning shutout and only allowed two hits, striking out 12 in the Tigers 9-0 victory in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Last year, Thomas relied on one pitch, her drop ball. But this season she has added two new pitches, a rise ball and a change up. Utilizing these three pitches kept Alabama's offense guessing throughout the game.
"She has grown a lot, and she is even better than she was last year," Earleywine said.
The game only lasted five innings, and it marked the first time that Alabama was defeated at home by the run-rule since 1997.
In 2008, Alabama beat Missouri twice in the NCAA Super Regional tournament, which knocked the Tigers out of postseason play. This year, the Tigers were happy to get some revenge.
"We feel great to beat them on their home field," MU centerfielder Rhea Taylor said by phone. "We wanted to take all three, but we are satisfied with taking two games."
Taylor went 2-for-4 in the game, scored two runs and stole two bases. MU catcher Megan Christopher was 2-for-3, with a double and four RBIs.
In the fifth inning, Christopher hit a foul tip off her chin which knocked her out and drew a collective gasp from the fans in the stands. Christopher regained consciousness a few seconds later, and Earleywine said she could have went back in the game but she felt a little "woosy." He said she now feels fine.
The Tigers capitalized on many mistakes made by Alabama. The Crimson Tide committed three errors and hit three batters, which helped load the bases for the Tigers in three different innings.
The Tigers scored three runs in the first inning, five in the fourth and one in the fifth.
Missouri (2-1) will travel to Tucson, Ariz. next weekend to play a three-game series against No. 4 Arizona (4-0) starting Feb. 20.
"Arizona could care less that we beat Alabama," Earleywine said. "We can't just stroll in there an beat them, we have to stay on task."