COLUMBIA – Chelsea Thomas keeps getting wins and earning awards.
The sophomore won her 20th game of the season when she led the Missouri softball team to a weekend sweep over Oklahoma on Sunday at University Field. The effort helped Thomas earn Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Week honors for the fourth time this season and sixth time in her career.
No. 8 Missouri (35-5)
at St. Louis University (26-17)
WHEN: Doubleheader at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
WHERE: St. Louis
With all that Thomas has accomplished this year, it’s easy to forget there’s another talented pitcher in Missouri’s bullpen.
Junior Kristin Nottelmann led the No. 8 Tigers (35-5) to the Women’s College World Series last season when Thomas suffered a season-ending injury before the start of conference play. Now that Thomas appears to be fully healthy, starts are hard to come by for Nottelmann.
“I’m sure it bothers her not to pitch, especially after she got out of her cage last year,” coach Ehren Earleywine said. “I hate that part because there are a lot of teams that she could be their ace. It’s a good situation for our program. It’s probably not the ideal situation for Kristin right now.”
Nottelmann will get her first start in two weeks on Wednesday at St. Louis University (26-17). In her last start, Nottelmann gave up six hits and two runs in a 7-2 win on April 6 at Evansville. Nottelmann’s only loss this season was the previous week against North Texas when she gave up nine runs on seven hits.
Despite her 12-1 record, Earleywine said Nottelmann has something to prove Wednesday.
“It’s like, ‘What can you do?’ Because the last couple outings she’s had haven’t been that good,” Earleywine said. “She should be able to dominate them (St. Louis), and if she doesn’t then there’s a little concern about putting her in on the weekends in conference play.”
After seeing sparse action on the weekends, Nottelmann said she has put more into preparing for midweek games against teams like St. Louis than she did last season.
“These midweek games are my conference games right now,” she said. “They help keep my confidence up, help with fine tuning my skills and help me be ready for the weekend in top shape. If I need to come in, I’m ready, and I had that practice from midweek to prepare for it.”
While Nottelmann hasn’t had to prepare for weekend games this season like she did last year, Thomas said she always reminds Nottelmann to stay ready just in case something happens. Still, Nottelmann said she doesn’t worry too much about Saturdays but makes sure she is prepared on Sundays.
“She’s (Thomas) been pretty solid on Saturdays,” Nottelmann said. “Pretty much Sunday’s my day I get to work in the bullpen and get my stuff ready just in case I do need to come in.”
Thomas will be rested for both games of Missouri’s doubleheader Wednesday. She threw 324 total pitches in 20 innings over two days in last weekend’s series against Oklahoma.
Sophomore third baseman Nicole Hudson also received conference honors Tuesday, becoming Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time in her career. She hit .500 in the Tigers’ weekend series, going 2-for-4 with an RBI in Saturday’s game, and 3-6 with the game-winning RBI in Sunday’s game.
The first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader is at 3 p.m., the second at 5 p.m. Missouri will then head to Lincoln, Neb., for Easter weekend to face the Cornhuskers.