COLUMBIA – If you were to lose a game of Monopoly, Missouri's softball coach is the kind of guy that would probably question your desire to win.
Ehren Earleywine coached his team to two victories over Evansville on Wednesday afternoon at University Field. Yet, satisfied and content were not the words to describe his attitude after the doubleheader sweep.
Roth's three RBIs in the second game of the doubleheader put her third on the team with 20.
Flemming's two hits in the second game put her in the team lead in batting average, hitting .381
Thomas' 4 1/3 innings of scoreless work sent her ERA down to a miniscule 0.67 good for second in the Big 12.
Displeased with his club's recent lack of effort, Earleywine explained why he can't even stand winning when his team play so lifelessly. He said he needs to see enthusiasm.
"I can watch that," Earleywine said. "I can watch that and lose. But I can't watch the other thing and even win. I can't watch not trying and winning. That bothers me."
Then the first game of the doubleheader in which the Tigers won 4-2, must have been really tough to watch.
"The part above and beyond all of it, whether you're hitting or not hitting, or pitching or not pitching, or winning or not winning, is trying. That's the part I will never understand. In the first game, anyone that has two eyeballs could tell you that we were very flat."
In the first game, the Tigers scraped together only five hits against Evansville, which tossed out a couple of pitchers who entered Wednesday's games with ERAs above four against the Tigers who had eight regulars hitting above .280.
This should have been like sending sheep to the slaughter. Instead it was like the butcher didn't care whether or not the sheep lived or died.
Even normally reliable senior pitcher Kristin Nottelmann didn't seem focused and lacked anything resembling control. She came into the game with a 1.74 ERA and only 25 walks in 60 innings, and despite earning the victory, Nottelmann gave away six free passes to thankful Evansville batters (hitting .266 this season) including three in a row in the second inning.
"I don't mind the errors," Earleywine said. "It's the laziness, its the flatness, its the indifference. That's the part I really have a hard time with."
The second game, which Missouri won 7-0, was a little different for Earleywine's Tigers.
"They played better," Earleywine said. "They just played like they cared. Anybody that was watching the game could tell that we were playing with some enthusiasm, and that to me can make an enormous difference. Now I don't know whether it was a seven-run difference but its certainly will suffice for me."
Well, three home runs can make you feel that way. Freshman slugger, Kelsea Roth woke up the sluggish Tiger bats with a three-run blast in the bottom of the fourth inning giving Missouri a 3-0 lead.
Ashley Flemming followed suit with her team-leading seventh home run, a solo shot in the fifth. Finally, reserve catcher Rachel Hay smacked the Tigers' second three-run home run of the game in the sixth, putting an end to the scoring and an end to the any Evansville hopes of a comeback.
Oh, and Chelsea Thomas was Chelsea Thomas. She pitched only 4 1/3 innings, but she stuck out 11 batters and allowed just one hit. Freshman Bailey Irwin finished off Evansville with 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
Earleywine was far more pleased with his squad's effort in the second game, and with conference rival and the team that knocked them out of last year's World Series, Baylor (22-8, 1-2 Big 12) coming to Columbia, he expects to see more of the same.
The first game of the three-game series for Missouri (25-5, 4-2 Big 12) against Baylor will be at 6 p.m. on Friday night at University Field.