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Thomas, Nottelmann combine for perfect game in Missouri softball's rout

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 | 7:11 p.m. CDT; updated 8:23 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Missouri's Rhea Taylor slides into second base while SIU-Edwardsville second baseman Taylor Tooley attempts to tag her out on Wednesday at University Field. Taylor was declared safe. Taylor has 28 stolen bases this season.

COLUMBIA — For the third time this season, Chelsea Thomas didn’t allow a batter to get on base. This time, though, Thomas didn’t get credit for the perfect game. But the team still did.

Thomas pitched four innings and picked up her 22nd win of the season as the No. 8 Tigers rolled to a 10-0 victory over SIU-Edwardsville (25-25) in five innings on Wednesday. Thomas struck out 10 of the 12 batters she faced, throwing 48 pitches, 38 of which were strikes.

When Kristin Nottelmann relieved Thomas in the top of the fifth inning, she didn’t let up. In one inning Nottelmann didn’t allow anyone on base, striking out two of the three batters she faced and throwing eight strikes in 11 pitches.

That combined effort explains why the win was the shortest game Missouri (39-6) has played all season, lasting one hour and two minutes.

“I always want to be a great sportsman, but I do feel bad, especially when you play teams like that,” senior Catherine Lee said. “You almost want them to at least make contact without having to bunt. Poor things.”

As Missouri extended its nation-leading home winning streak to 33 games, coach Ehren Earleywine said his toughest decision of the day was whether to put Nottelmann in or let Thomas finish the game.

“From a coach’s perspective, my only decision was, ‘Do I take her out? She’s throwing a perfect game.’ But the answer’s, ‘Yes,’” Earleywine said. “You’ve got to get Nottelmann some work, because at some point we’re going to need that kid.”

Fifteen players had at least one at-bat for the Tigers, totaling nine hits and three walks. Sophomore shortstop Jenna Marston led the offense with two hits and three RBIs. Marston said, in addition to having a good day at the plate, it was important for the whole batting lineup to see pitches in the middle of the week.

“It’s a confidence builder. You can go into the weekend feeling good and everybody up and down the lineup is feeling good,” Marston said. “It makes it tougher for opposing pitchers on the weekend when all your hitters are comfortable in the box.”

Earleywine said he wasn’t surprised to see players who normally don’t play in conference games getting hits against SIU-Edwardsville.

“Everybody on our team should do that against a team of that caliber,” Earleywine said. “We’re to the point where kids we’re getting are being recruited by big-time schools, even on the bench, so they should do that.”

Missouri returns to Big 12 competition this weekend when the team heads to Stillwater, Okla., to play No. 16 Oklahoma State. The Tigers will play one game at 2 p.m. Saturday and another at noon Sunday.


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