OKLAHOMA CITY — Minutes after his team’s 6-2 loss to No. 4 Florida, Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine was at a loss on how to move forward.
“I don’t know what to do,” Earleywine said. “Even if it’s wrong, I usually have a plan. I don’t have one.”
Thursday’s loss marked Missouri’s fifth consecutive loss at the Women’s College World Series over the last three seasons. At the plate, Missouri mustered only four hits and squandered an opportunity with the bases loaded and only one out in the top of the third. Pitcher Chelsea Thomas had her worst outing of the season, allowing six runs on eight hits, including two home runs in a single inning.
Afterward, Earleywine attributed his team’s struggles to a mental block.
“What do you do?” Earleywine asked. “How do you get kids to play like they normally play? How do you get them to stay relaxed? As a coaching staff, we acknowledge that’s the issue we’re facing.”
“I’m thinking, ‘Do we need to go practice tomorrow?’ and I’m thinking, ‘No,’ because it’s not physical.”
The Tigers took batting practice Friday in preparation for Saturday's 1:30 p.m. elimination game against No. 9 Oklahoma. The Sooners also dropped their opening game, 3-1, against No. 1 Arizona State.
Missouri defeated Oklahoma on two consecutive days during the regular season. This time around, instead of playing on its home field, Missouri will have to dispatch Oklahoma just 25 miles from its home field in Norman.
Should Missouri defeat Oklahoma, it will flirt with elimination again Saturday evening. The Tigers will take on No. 11 Baylor, with whom they split a two-game set in April. Baylor won its opening game at the World Series against Oklahoma State by a score of 1-0 and lost its second game against No. 2 Alabama by a score of 3-0.
Missouri gets under way Saturday at 1:30 p.m. against Oklahoma. If Missouri wins, it will play Baylor at 8:30 p.m.