COLUMBIA – The scene was eerily familiar. The fans were clapping, cheering and stomping, coach Ehren Earleywine was running and jumping, the Missouri players were clearing out the dugout, and senior shortstop Abby Vock once again crossed home plate for the winning run in extra innings.
But this time, Vock had to slide. And this time, it was sophomore third baseman Nicole Hudson who provided the hit that allowed Vock to score the game-ending run.
“I was just hoping that she would be able to sneak in there safe and she did,” Hudson said.
Hudson’s hit to center field allowed Vock to score from second base, edging out a throw to home plate and giving No. 9 Missouri (35-5, 9-1) a 1-0 win over No. 14 Oklahoma (33-13, 6-5) in 11 innings.
“I just went all the way,” Vock said. “Coach E was running down the baseline with me, ‘C’mon, Abby!’ So I knew I was going to score.”
Vock hit a solo walk-off home run in the ninth inning of Missouri’s game Saturday against Oklahoma. With Sunday’s win, the Tigers swept the Sooners in the weekend series and extended their nation-best home win streak to 32 games. The drama was seen by a crowd of 1,712, a regular season record for Missouri softball, and nationwide television audience on ESPN.
“I think nationwide it sends a statement that our program is for real,” Earleywine said. “We’re not a flash in the pan.”
In two days, Missouri and Oklahoma played 20 innings. But with the pitcher’s duel that took place at University Field on Sunday, it felt like more.
Redshirt sophomore Chelsea Thomas pitched all 20 of those innings. Thomas threw 161 pitches in nine innings Saturday, only to return and throw 163 in 11 innings Sunday. On Saturday, Thomas set a new personal record with 17 strikeouts, a number she matched Sunday.
“Anything that I would try to say would undermine it,” Earleywine said, when asked about Thomas’ performance. “It just is what it is. I’ve never seen anything like it in my coaching career.”
Thomas allowed six hits and walked one batter Sunday.
“That was just a grit-it-out type of day,” Thomas said. “I kept saying, ‘I’m here as long as you need. C’mon, let’s just get one run.’”
Thomas’ teammates said as badly as they wanted to sweep Oklahoma, they wanted to get the win for Thomas because of how she performed on the mound.
“I wanted to pull of this win for her because she went out there and battled,” Hudson said. “I could tell she was getting tired, and if I were her I probably would’ve wanted to kill us. ‘C’mon, just get a run,’ I could kind of see it in her eyes. It was just a great win for her. She’s amazing.”