OKLAHOMA CITY — Each time Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine remembers Missouri's Women's College World Series appearance last season he feels disgusted.
"We were sick about what happened last year and we just don't want it to happen again," Earleywine said. "Hopefully they will fight a little bit harder than they did last year because you have to sit with that feeling all year long waiting for the next year to come around. And it's a terrible,terrible place to be. The entire summer was tainted for me because of the World Series."
Last season, the Tigers lost their opening two games against Arizona State and Georgia in the WCWS. This year Missouri its their opening round game in the WCWS to Hawaii Thursday and will face elimination when its plays Florida at 11 a.m. Saturday.
According to Missouri junior Catherine Lee, when Missouri went to Georgia for the 2010 Leadoff Classic earlier this year Michigan chanted "two and barbecue" referring to the Tigers losing their first two games in last year's World Series. The Tigers are 1-9 in five WCWS appearances.
"We don't want to be that team that makes it here and stops once it gets here," Lee said. "We earned our way here and look to earn our wins here."
Before Earleywine, a Missouri native, accepted the coaching job it was his dream to coach a national championship team in his home state. He watched Missouri sports since he was a child and a reoccurring theme of the athletic programs coming up short of a national championship kept popping up. The fourth-year coach made it clear he didn't want his program to be known for being the team that is "two and done."
"We want to represent our state," he said. "The people of Missouri, for too long we have had to celebrate being mediocre. We want to do it for our team because we feel like we are good enough. And just for the Mizzou fans who haven't had a lot to cheer about for the past 50 years. Growing up a MU fan I've lived that reality in my living room. We want to be the team that changes that."
The last time a Missouri team won a national championship was the 1965 Indoor track & field team but Earleywine is confident Missouri athletics will have something to be proud of soon.
"It may not happen this year, but it will happen eventually. That's a guarantee," he said.
The Tigers were deflated after their loss to Hawaii, and felt so disgusted they didn't even want to discuss softball.
"This morning is the first time we convened since we lost," Lee said. "We are all just kind of put it behind us and not talking about it."
Lee said they should have scored more runs off of Hawaii pitching which the junior said was "the worst pitching staff coming into the Women's College World Series." On Saturday they will face a Florida staff that has a 2.22 team ERA and Earleywine said was a "little above average."
"To score only two runs, two very toughly earned runs off their (Hawaii's) pitcher is a little bit embarrassing for us," Lee said. "Florida's got better pitching and it's ironic that we do better against good pitching. Hopefully we will have the bats hot Saturday."