Something was different, and it took several innings for the Missouri softball team to adjust.
The pitches from Radford, the defending Big South champions, were considerably slower, which caused the Tiger hitters to swing too early. The pitches ranged from 55 to 60 mph. Typically the team is used to seeing pitches in the upper 60s and lower 70s. After about six innings the Tiger hitters were able to make adjustments, and they started making better contact. The adjustment helped propel the Tigers (8-2) to a 7-6 victory against Radford in 10 innings in their final game of the 2010 Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga.
"Their pitchers throwing that slow was definitely a source of frustration," said Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine by phone. "We didn't adjust to well, it took us awhile."
Junior Abby Vock picked a great time for her first hit of the season. In the bottom of the tenth inning, the game was tied at 6. With the bases loaded and one out, Vock, who had been hitless in 13 at bats this season, sent the game-winning hit into center field.
"I just tried to stay back on the ball and hit it into right field," Vock said by phone. "It is a really good feeling to win a close game like that."
Missouri pitchers, Jana Hainey, Lindsey Muller and Chelsea Thomas, did not issue a walk. They gave up 10 hits, including four home runs. Thomas (6-1) got the win pitching six innings and striking out seven batters.
The game went back and forth, with neither team leading by more than a run. In the sixth inning, with the game was tied at 3, utility player Gina Schneider hit her first home run of the season to give the Tigers the lead. In the seventh inning, Thomas was two outs away from securing the victory before giving up a solo home run to Radford pinch hitter Meredith Moore to tie the game at 4 and send the game into extra innings.
"I was really surprised at how well they (Radford) were able to hit the ball," Earleywine said.
The Tigers ended up winning all five games in the 2010 Leadoff Classic.
"There are a few things we need to address on offense, but we are still finding ways to win," Earleywine said.
The Tigers will end their 12-game road trip Wednesday when they travel to Edwardsville, Ill., to play a doubleheader against SIU-Edwardsville. The first game will start at 2 p.m.