COLUMBIA – With sophomores Jenna Marston and Nicole Hudson leading the offense while redshirt sophomore Chelsea Thomas continues to dominate on the mound, it’s safe to say the Missouri softball team will be in good shape through 2013.
Especially after last weekend, when another player showed the ability to become a solid starter.
Western Illinois (19-23)
at No. 8 Missouri (40-6)
WHEN: 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
WHERE: University Field
RADIO: KTGR 100.5 FM/1580AM (Game 1 only)
Sophomore Princess Krebs led No. 8 Missouri (40-6, 11-2) with two RBIs and one home run in the Tigers’ 5-0 win Saturday at No. 18 Oklahoma State (37-12).
But Krebs’ emergence is not a surprise.
“Before the season started she was on fire, and we thought, ‘Man, this is our every day left fielder and possibly even third baseman,’” Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said. “But she started off the season so bad. That first weekend in California, she couldn’t buy a hit. And not only that, she was striking out. She didn’t get another chance until later on in the season, and she’s done a pretty good job in the second half.”
With Earleywine’s high hopes for Krebs at the beginning of the season, Krebs was excited to be a staple in the lineup, but when she was unable to get her offense going, she was resigned to spending time on the bench.
“I tried not to get down, I tried to stay up,” Krebs said. “People were always telling me to stay positive, so I tried to stay positive. Then I just started getting hits.”
Krebs’ success came quickly. She started the second game of Missouri’s home weekend series against Oklahoma on April 17. Playing the whole game in left field, Krebs went 3-for-4 against OU’s Keilani Ricketts, one of the best pitchers in the country.
Earleywine said he still can’t figure out where that production came from, and why it was missing earlier in the season.
“It’s hard to read her (Krebs). She’s not a real cerebral type kid on the field, she just kind of plays,” Earleywine said. “I’ve tried to put my finger on why she was struggling so much. Was it mentally? Was it physically? You can’t read anything mentally with her, so then you start looking at physically, and I couldn’t see anything different than what she’s doing now. She’s a real interesting kid to try to figure out.”
What Earleywine does know is that Krebs is an important player when she’s producing the way she is now. She’s “unconscious,” as Earleywine likes to say.
“She doesn’t get nervous, she doesn’t have fear of other pitchers,” he said. “If she does, she doesn’t show it. She’s just a grip-and-rip type of a kid who gets her swings and plays pretty good defense.”
Krebs says she is excited to have finally met expectations. Marston and Hudson, who are Krebs’ roommates, are enjoying it just as much.
“Everybody’s happier when they’re playing, so it’s a really happy household right now, and we’re all having fun,” Marston said.
Thomas’ household must be ecstatic. Not only does Thomas lead the nation with a 0.72 ERA, but she was again named the Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Week, marking the third time in four weeks she’s received the honor. Thomas has more Big 12 weekly awards than any other player in the conference, this one being the fifth of the year and seventh of her career.
Missouri plays its last non-conference games Wednesday when Western Illinois visits University Field for a doubleheader. The first game will be at 3 p.m., with the second game scheduled to start at 5 p.m.