Missouri softball team disappoints in opening weekend

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 | 9:22 p.m. CST; updated 10:42 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Missouri senior Abby Vock fields a ball during batting practice Wednesday at Daniel Devine Athletic Pavilion.

COLUMBIA – For a team that has an offense that is supposed to carry it through the season, the Missouri softball team put on a disappointing display in its opening weekend of the 2011 season. But the players aren’t too concerned.

“I think it was just first-weekend jitters,” junior pitcher Kristin Nottelmann said. “We’re going to be fine.”

Nottelmann pitched the Tigers’ first game of the San Diego Classic. Allowing just one run, Nottelmann led Missouri to its only win of the weekend. The Tigers beat San Diego State 9-1 in five innings because of a run rule.

Missouri used up about all its runs in that game, though.

“We just couldn’t pull hits together and that happens,” senior outfielder Rhea Taylor said. “Our defense was there, but offense just wasn’t pulling it together.”

Missouri lost 6-3 to Fresno State on Friday before turning in its worst offensive display of the weekend in a 1-0 loss to California — a game that started Friday but wasn’t concluded until Sunday because of rain delays.

California’s sophomore pitcher Jolene Henderson managed to shut down Missouri’s hitters, giving up two hits.

“The pitcher (Henderson) was throwing pretty hard, she kept us off our rhythm,” MU senior infielder Abby Vock said. “She was trying to quick pitch a lot of players, so we just didn’t get comfortable.”

On the positive side, redshirt sophomore pitcher Chelsea Thomas was impressive in her first return to the mound since her injury in March. Thomas only gave up three hits and one unearned run to California.

Coach Ehren Earleywine said he wasn’t surprised with Thomas’ performance. The more important thing, he said, was that she didn’t feel sore after the weekend.

The Tigers will be on the road again this weekend, playing five games in three days at the USF Tournament in Tampa, Fla. Earleywine said the results will be different than they were in California.

“Wait to see what happens this weekend," he said. "It’s going to be special.”

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