Hudson leads Missouri softball team past Texas to avoid sweep

Sunday, May 8, 2011 | 5:10 p.m. CDT; updated 5:32 p.m. CDT, Sunday, May 8, 2011

COLUMBIA — The Missouri softball team fell behind 1-0 in the top of the first inning against Texas on Sunday, resurrecting plenty of images from the Tigers’ 2-0 loss to the Longhorns the previous day.

This time, though, the Missouri offense responded, and it came from the usual place.

With Tigers senior Rhea Taylor on third base, sophomore Nicole Hudson singled to drive in Taylor and, more importantly, level the score. Tying the game was all the Missouri players needed to start getting hits.

Texas "scored in the first inning, and I think they were a little too relaxed with that and thought maybe they had it won right there just because they shut us out yesterday,” Hudson said. “I really wanted to get that run in and just show that it’s not going to be that easy.”

Hudson found things easy enough at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs, including a two-run home run that tied the game again in the bottom of the third inning after Texas took a 3-1 lead.

Hudson got help from her teammates, too. No. 8 Missouri (43-7, 12-3) had 10 hits on the way to a 6-3 victory over No. 4 Texas (45-7, 14-3).

“This just shows we’re not going to back down,” Hudson said. “They got the best of us yesterday, but we came out fighting a lot harder. We were not going to let them sweep us on our own field, that’s for sure.”

The Missouri offense came alive at just the right time. Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said Chelsea Thomas had an “average performance” on the mound against Texas on Sunday. Thomas gave up three runs on six hits while walking two batters and recording eight strikeouts.

For the first time this season, Earleywine said the offense carried Thomas. Meanwhile, Thomas said if the Missouri bats produce runs like that, the team should be in good shape.

“If they can come out and score six runs, we’re not going to lose very many games, that’s for sure,” Thomas said.

While Sunday’s win was important for the team’s confidence with postseason play lurking just a couple weeks away, it was also key for Missouri’s Big 12 Conference title hopes. If the Tigers win their three remaining games, they will at least share the conference championship with Texas. Missouri can win the title outright if the Longhorns stumble against Baylor next weekend.

“That was one of two goals that we set out at the beginning of the season, and we still put ourselves in a position to accomplish that, and that’s a big deal for us,” Hudson said.

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