COLUMBIA — The crowd at University Field silently watched two different hits sail for home runs Saturday. Each person in attendance looked awe-struck to see Chelsea Thomas give up not just one, but two home runs Saturday in the Missouri softball team's 2-0 loss to Texas.
Thomas gave up just four hits while striking out seven Longhorn batters, but two of those hits were all the No. 3 Longhorns (45-6, 14-2) needed against the No. 5 Tigers (42-7, 11-3), who only managed two hits on the day.
No. 3 Texas (45-6, 14-2)
at No. 5 Missouri (42-7, 11-3)
WHERE: University Field
“She (Thomas) works her butt off. Two hits kills us inside,” senior catcher Megan Christopher said. “We feel bad for her because somebody who gives up four hits, she should win, every time.”
Both of Missouri’s hits came from sophomore third baseman Nicole Hudson, who went 2-for-3 at the plate. Senior second baseman Abby Vock was the only other Tigers player to get on base when she was walked.
Hudson echoed Christopher, saying the offense needs to support Thomas.
“A lot of the time, we’ll score one or two runs and expect her (Thomas) to carry us through the rest of the game,” Hudson said. “Sometimes that’s not going to happen when we’ve got such good hitting teams that we play. We definitely need to put up more runs tomorrow.”
Talking about tomorrow was a common theme among the Tigers after Saturday’s game. After seeing their nation-best 35-game home winning streak come to an end in front of a record crowd of no less than 2,404, the Tigers were ready for another chance to face Texas.
“I’m pretty mad. I don’t want anybody to come out on our turf and take that from us,” Hudson said. “We’ll dust it off tomorrow and we’ll come back and we’re going to get them.”
As upset as his players were, Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said his message after the game was that the team can still accomplish its goal of winning a Big 12 Conference championship.
“If we split this series, then run the table, which we should do, we’re co-champs of the Big 12 — that’s nothing to be ashamed of,” Earleywine said. “We just have to dust ourselves off and remember that tomorrow is a new day and try to do a little bit better job at the plate.”
Missouri can’t secure a share of the Big 12 championship on Sunday, but with only three conference games remaining after this weekend’s series against Texas, a win would nearly ensure the Tigers a share of the championship.
Thomas will return to the mound and the Missouri offense will try to figure out how to produce runs against Texas at noon on Sunday at University Field. For the second time this season, a Missouri home game will be televised on ESPN.