Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine rejoined his team in right field following its 6-3 victory over No. 12-seed Washington in game 2 of the NCAA Super Regionals. The Tigers, who clinched their third straight trip to the Women’s College World Series, stood together in celebration.
“He just came right in and said ‘Tigers on 3’,” said outfielder Rhea Taylor.
“We all said welcome back,’” added outfielder Lisa Simmons.
Earleywine, who had been ejected in the bottom of the first inning, watched more than six of the game’s seven innings on television.
“There was a five second delay,” Earleywine said. “You would hear the cheering or the booing or whatever and then five seconds later it would happen (on television). It was just so painful to watch in there. It was really hard, but I guess I deserved it.”
The ejection came in the top of the first inning when Princess Krebs hit a dribbler down the third base line and Washington’s Morgan Stuart approached the ball. The ball rolled foul, but Earleywine was adamant in his conviction that Stuart touched the ball in fair territory. He quickly confronted the third base umpire and was just as quickly ejected by the home plate umpire.
Pitcher Chelsea Thomas, who threw nine strikeouts and allowed two earned runs, said that she and her teammates appreciated their coach’s intensity.
“When he gets thrown out, it’s like he’s fighting for us,” Thomas said. "He’s got our backs. We get kind of pumped up after it.”
Though Earleywine was ejected early in the game, his team already had a 5-0 lead. With pitcher Chelsea Thomas in the circle for the Tigers, Earleywine said such a lead is usually safe.
“You get Chelsea Thomas five runs in the first inning and you can pretty much book it,” Earleywine said.
Missouri's first game in the Women's College World Series is against the University of Florida at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday in Oklahoma City. Earleywine acknowledges his opponent’s prowess at the plate, but also feels that he has the pitcher to combat it.
“There’s no better way to face the best hitting team in the country than with the best pitcher in the country,” Earleywine said. “We have a good softball team and I like our chances.”