Missouri softball reaches 40-win mark for fifth straight season

Saturday, April 30, 2011 | 6:23 p.m. CDT; updated 6:31 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 30, 2011

For the fifth straight year, the Missouri softball team has reached 40 wins. The No. 8 Tigers (40-6, 11-2) reached the mark with a 5-0 win on Saturday at No. 16 Oklahoma State (37-12, 8-5).

Missouri pitcher Chelsea Thomas picked up her 10th complete game shutout this season, giving up just one hit and striking out 13 batters. Thomas improved to 24-3 with a 0.72 ERA. Coach Ehren Earleywine said Saturday’s win was the best he has seen Thomas pitch all season, even including her two perfect games.

“It was the best performance she’s had this year in terms of being ahead in the count, staying ahead and just throwing a lot of strikes,” Earleywine said in a phone interview. “I can count on one hand the amount of counts where she got behind today. When you’ve got stuff like her, I think the name of the game is to make the other team hit the ball, put it in the strike zone and don’t give up any freebies.”

Thomas has now thrown 283 strikeouts this year, putting her in second place on the Missouri single-season strikeouts list, just three behind Erin Kalka’s record 286 strikeouts from the 2004 season.

“That’s something I’ve worked hard for,” Thomas said in a phone interview. “That’ll be really cool to be in the record books.”

The Missouri offense provided Thomas with plenty of help early in the game. In the top of the first inning, Missouri jumped out to a 2-0 lead. The third batter, sophomore third baseman Nicole Hudson, had an RBI single that scored sophomore shortstop Jenna Marston. With the bases loaded, sophomore outfielder Princess Krebs was hit by a pitch, which scored Hudson.

Hudson added another run in the top of the third, scoring an unearned run as a result of a throwing error in the infield. Krebs homered to left field in the top of the sixth to make it 4-0, and Missouri added one more run in the top of the seventh when junior outfielder Ashley Fleming hit a double to score Marston.

Missouri will try to sweep Oklahoma State in the weekend series at noon Sunday.

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