Missouri head softball coach Ehren Earleywine does not like the NCAA tiebreaker rule. Even if he wins, he still thinks it's unfair.
"I don't think it is a good way to settle a game when two pitchers have been working their tails off," Earleywine said by phone after Missouri beat Michigan 2-1 at the 2010 Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.
When the game went into extra innings, Tigers shortstop Jenna Marston was sent to second base. The score was tied 1-1 going into the eighth inning. Third baseman Nicole Hudson led off the inning with a single that sent Marston to third. Catcher Megan Christopher struck out and then left fielder Ashley Fleming reached base on a fielder's choice that scored the go-ahead run.
In the bottom of the eighth Tigers pitcher Chelsea Thomas gave up a lead-off single with no runners out. With runners at first and third, Thomas stuck out the next two batters, before getting Michigan left fielder Bree Evans to line out to Marston to secure the Tiger's victory. Thomas said she felt confident the team was going to win despite the lead-off single.
"All I was thinking about was getting those outs," she said. "I was able to get my rise ball going, which helped me in the last innings."
Earleywine praised Thomas for her pitching performance.
"There are about 10 or 12 pitchers in the league that you can consider great," Earleywine said. "Those pitchers separate themselves with their ability to get out of jams. And she (Chelsea Thomas) was able to do that today, and it just speaks volumes about how good of a pitcher she is."
When a game goes into extra innings, the NCAA tiebreaker rule sends the last player that got out to second base to start the inning. Both teams get an opportunity to have a runner at second. If that runner scores, the run is charged to the defensive team not the pitcher.
"I think they should just let the teams play the game out," said Earleywine. "But for a tournament like this one, I can see why they use it. They just don't want to put things behind schedule."
The Tigers stuck out 15 times against Michigan pitcher Jordan Taylor. Putting the ball in play is something Earleywine has addressed.
"Ashley (Fleming) did a good job putting the ball in play to score the run in the eighth, but the team has to do a better job of putting the ball in play," Earleywine said. "Sometimes it seems that our hitters are trying to hit the ball out of the park, and you can't do that or you will go 0-for-3 every game."
Thomas struck out 11 batters over eight innings. She gave up three hits and one run, and only walked one batter.
Christopher came into the game second in the Big 12 conference with a .538 batting average. She drove in the Tigers' other run with a lead-off home run in the second inning.
MISSOURI 9, VIRGINIA TECH 4
Two games and two wins for Missouri. Sophomore Kristin Nottelmann picked up the win as Mizzou moves to 2-0 at the NFCA Leadoff Classic.
The Tigers have three games left to play in the 2010 Leadoff Classic. On Saturday the team will play No. 20 Louisiana-Lafayette at 11 a.m. and No. 24 Massachusetts at 1:30 p.m.