COLUMBIA – After Missouri’s 6-3 win over Texas A&M on Saturday, Chelsea Thomas wasn’t happy with her performance on the mound. That didn’t bode well for the Aggies in the series finale.
Thomas allowed no runs on four hits and had nine strikeouts in the 3-0 Missouri win Sunday. Not to mention, no Texas A&M player reached third base during the game.
“I think today was a lot better for me,” Thomas said. “I, for the most part, got ahead in the count, which is really important for me. I feel like if I can get ahead in the count, most of the time I can find a way to get them out. I think that was the most important part of today.”
Probably the most important thing to come out of Thomas’ weekend performance is that she’s pain free. The redshirt sophomore has patiently worked her way back into throwing shape this year after suffering a stress fracture in her throwing wrist halfway through last season.
Thomas said that injury is finally a thing of the past.
“I’m finally healed,” Thomas said. “I’m in shape. My arm is ready to go two full games. It’s a great feeling.”
Thomas’ hard work to return to full health and improve her pitching has gone beyond the playing field. She admits she loves watching film to study other teams and her own mechanics, and coach Ehren Earleywine said her dedication off the field is unmatched.
“Last night at 8:45 when everybody else is probably laying around their dorm eating and doing nothing, Chelsea comes over to the MATC (Missouri Athletics Training Complex) and watches video on A&M for an hour and a half,” Earleywine said.
He added that Thomas “was disgusted with her performance, was disgusted with her mechanics. Then she comes out today and does a much better job. You can’t teach that kind of effort, you really can’t. She’s a special kid.”
Senior outfielder Rhea Taylor has noticed Thomas' ability to recover from a disappointing outing.
“Every Saturday if she does not as good as she wants to, she comes out Sunday and does so much better,” Taylor said. “That’s what great players do.”
No. 12 Missouri (32-5, 7-1) swept its weekend series against No. 20 Texas A&M (30-11, 3-4), and Thomas picked up her 17th win this season.
If Thomas continues to stay healthy, she’ll have plenty of chances to pick up a lot more wins. Earleywine had been splitting starts between Thomas and junior Kristin Nottelmann for the first half of the season in order to keep Thomas’ pitch count down and bring her along slowly. Now facing conference opponents, Thomas will most likely be spending more time on the mound.
“It was always a matter of waking up on Sunday and seeing how Chelsea felt,” Earleywine said. “If she felt OK, we were going to give her the ball.”
It’s Earleywine’s hope that he’ll be giving her the ball a lot more in the second half of the season than he did in the first half.