Former assistant Missouri softball coach returns with own team

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | 8:20 p.m. CDT; updated 8:15 a.m. CDT, Thursday, April 22, 2010
Evansville coach Mark Redburn greets MU senior associate athletic director Tim Hickman before the softball game Wednesday. Redburn is a former assistant coach of the MU softball team.

COLUMBIA — It took Evansville softball coach Mark Redburn a while to leave University Field on Wednesday after playing Missouri.

Several Tigers players and coaches including Missouri assistant Pete D'Amour came and shook hands with Redburn and exchanged pleasantries.

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"I consider him a pretty good friend, we were just catching up, and I was seeing how his family was doing," D'Amour said.

Redburn, a former assistant coach for the Tigers, returned to Columbia for the first time since leaving the team at the end of last season. The Missouri native didn't look like a coach that lost 8-0 in five innings. He was still smiling, happy to play the team he once shared a dugout with.

"It's special, I had three good years here," Redburn said. "I was excited to come back and see everybody."

"It was a little weird to see him in purple," Missouri pitcher Kristin Nottelmann said. "But I was glad to see him."

Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine joked that he was not as happy as others to see Redburn.

"It's the same way I feel about all of them, I hate everybody I play," Earleywine said with a smile. "As soon as they drive in the parking lot I'm pissed off. But off the field we are good buddies, and I have a lot of respect for him as a man. But on the field it's fight time."

Redburn was the assistant coach for the Tigers from 2007 to 2009, and helped guide Missouri to a College World Series appearance last year. He specialized in working with catchers and pitchers, and helped with recruiting as well. He was known on the team for being fun-loving and laid back when he coached the Tigers.

"He's just a good people person," D'Amour said. "There is nobody that will say a bad thing about Mark and that's a pretty good compliment for him."

"He was very positive, always trying to encourage you," Nottelmann said. "He was very fun to be around."

Redburn hasn't changed since he starting coaching Evansville. Clapping his hands he shouted words of encouragement to his players from third base, cheering them on even after one of his players swung and missed a pitch.

"Come on seven you can do it," Redburn shouted. "That a girl, good swing."

Redburn was a contrast to the more reserved and cerebral Earleywine when coaching the Tigers.

"Girls loved him," Earleywine said. "He was like the nicest, warmest, fuzziest, friendliest, most well-spoken ... just knew how to make people feel good. He's a great salesman in so many ways. That's something that I don't have, something I don't do well. It worked because he provided more feel good than I provided most of the time."

Even though he was happy to see old friends, Redburn admitted there was a draw back to playing his former team.

"It was tough and emotional coming back a year after I leave," Redburn said. "It was nice to come back and see everybody, but I wasn't looking forward to playing them."

Even after moving to Evansville, Ind., Redburn said he still keeps in touch with Earleywine.

"It's a great relationship," Redburn said. "He was very instrumental in what I know and learn now. The things we do in Evansville are exactly what I learned here. I'm very thankful to call him my friend."

Missouri defeated Missouri S&T 8-0 in five innings in the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader. Nottelmann pitched her first collegiate no-hitter. She pitched five innings, striking out 10 batters. A fourth-inning error by Missouri second baseman Michaele Vock was only difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game.

Nottelmann normally has a relaxed look on her face in games, but that wasn't the case Wednesday. She took a more aggressive approach, pressing her lips together throwing the ball and letting out a low-pitched grunt when she released it.

"I feel like a have more control when I do that, and a little more speed," Nottelmann said. "It's worked out for me a lot, and I've been sticking with it."

Nottelmann overpowered Missouri S&T hitters with her rise ball and kept them off-balance with a change up, a pitch she has struggled throwing in the past.

"It's just the grip really," Nottelmann said. "Location comes with the grip. Once I get the grip down and get used to throwing it, I think I'll be perfectly fine."

The Tigers got some surprising offensive performances in their two games. Missouri freshman Ashley Ortega got her first hit as Tiger against Missouri S&T and also scored a run. Vock, a senior, hit her first collegiate home run, a game-winner in the fifth inning against Evansville. Vock didn't know what to think when she touched home plate.

"I can't even explain it," Vock said. "I was like, 'OK, what do I do now?' Coming in there I'm not used to that, but it's nice."

Missouri (34-8, 5-5) will play a doubleheader against Central Methodist University starting at 2 p.m. Thursday at University Field.

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