COLUMBIA — It was a happy day for Missouri senior Jana Hainey. It was also slightly embarrassing.
Her older sister Jill Hainey and her father Rex Hainey were at the Tigers' softball game Saturday against Baylor, watching the game from behind the right field fence at University Field. Her sister waved a large photo of Jana Hainey's face on the end of a wooden stick, and if that wasn't enough, her father held sign during a Senior Day ceremony on the field after the game that read "For pitching lessons call Jana Hainey." The sign included Jana Hainey's phone number and drew roaring laughter from fans.
"He put that in our yard this summer," Jana Hainey said laughing. "I was so embarrassed, he was trying to help out I guess."
Will she give pitching lessons?
"I don't know maybe," Jana Hainey said with a smile.
After Saturday's game, people might want to take Rex Hainey's offer. Jana Hainey (8-1) pitched one of her best games of the season in a 9-2 victory over the Bears. She gave up two runs on five hits and struck out one in five innings.
About 16 of Jana Hainey's family members came to the game to support her for Senior Day. During the ceremony, Jana Hainey and fellow seniors Michaele Vock and Gina Schneider received a bouquet of yellow roses and framed softball jerseys.
"It was really special today. I really don't know how to put it into words," Jana Hainey said. "It means a lot."
After giving up a two-run home run in the second inning, Hainey settled in. She struggled with her control, issuing two walks in the first, but none after that.
"I was really disappointed those first two innings, I don't think I settled in very well," Hainey said. "I was trying to be too fine. I just need to find the strike zone, control the game the way I can control it. After that home run, I just kind of sit back, looked at what was happening and figured out the things that I could control."
"I think for Jana, sometimes she tries to add velocity when she gets in trouble, and I would like for her to do just the opposite, and take three our four miles per hour off to hit her spot," Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said.
Since Missouri ace Chelsea Thomas was diagnosed with a stress fracture, Earleywine has depended on Hainey and sophomore Kristin Nottlemann. Nottelmann has struggled and is 3-4 against Big 12 teams with a 4.53 ERA, prompting Earleywine to depend even more on Hainey, who is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA against Big 12 teams.
Earlier in the season, Hainey was mainly used as a relief pitcher. She has battled shoulder soreness, restricting her to two or three innings per appearance early in the season. Since Thomas' injury, she has pitched four games where she went five innings or more. After Saturday's game, she said her shoulder feels better.
That was the most innings I've thrown for a while," Hainey said. "I'm feeling good, nothing more than a little sore from throwing a lot of pitches. It's not going to prohibit me from throwing tomorrow."
Hainey got plenty of support from Missouri's lineup, which got 10 hits. Missouri junior Rhea Taylor extended her hitting streak to 15 games going 2-for-3 including two triples and two runs scored.
Earleywine said Taylor plays "like a guy" and "probably fights like one."
Taylor was hit by a pitch in the third inning. She slowly walked away from home plate, coldly staring at Baylor pitcher Courtney Repka before trotting to first.
"I hate getting hit," Taylor said.
Taylor is a left-handed slap hitter and opposing defenses normally move in expecting a bunt or soft ground ball. When Baylor did that Saturday, Taylor hit the ball harder. In her next two at-bats after being hit, Taylor blasted pitches into the outfield for triples.
"I saw the girl on first base. She moved over to second base and moved in level with the pitcher," Taylor said. "And the third baseman was basically level with the pitcher, she was basically in my face. I was just like there is absolutely no way that I'm going to let this girl field the ball and get me out. So I just cocked back and hit it."
Missouri (40-9, 9-6 in the Big 12) will play Baylor (26-21, 6-10) again at 2 p.m. Sunday at University Field.