COLUMBIA — The Missouri softball team won its third consecutive game against Baylor on Sunday afternoon, beating the Bears 7-0 at University Field to sweep the No. 18 ranked team and extend its latest winning streak to five.
But for junior and starting outfielder Nicole Hudson, something more exciting than sweeping a Big 12 Conference rival — possibly the last time — was happening about four hours southwest of Columbia.
Chelsea Thomas (14-3) and the No. 17 Missouri Tigers (28-5, 7-2, Big 12) dominated No. 18 Baylor all weekend concluding in Sunday's shutout victory. Thomas tossed seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball Sunday, lowering her ERA to an anemic 0.58.
The offensive production was led by freshman Kelsea Roth who launched her fourth home run of the season off Baylor starter Courtney Repka in the first inning to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
Freshman Corrin Genovese continues to shine on defense making a multiple plays at third base, including an outstanding diving stop in the the second inning. Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine raved about Genovese, "I just don't know what to say (about her) any more. She's just unbelievable."
At 4 p.m. Sunday in Joplin, Hudson’s father hosted the grand reopening of the Domino’s Pizza restaurant that had been destroyed by a devastating F5 tornado almost 11 months ago.
Towards the end of last season, the Tigers had fallen into the loser’s bracket of the NCAA Columbia Regional tournament and were on the brink of losing the chance to advance to the Women’s College World Series. But on May 23, 2011, Missouri defeated DePaul twice to advance to the super-regionals.
It would have been a far more exciting occasion for the Tigers and Hudson had it not been the same day the deadliest tornado in more than half a century ravaged her father's business.
"We went out to eat right after the game, and I kind of saw it all unfolding," Hudson said. "I went back (to my apartment) and watched it on the Weather Channel, and I was like, 'Yeah, that's the town. That’s my dad’s store. Everything we’d always known is pretty much gone.'"
Hudson is from Webb City and none of her family members or friends were hurt in the devastation. Her parents fled Joplin as soon as they heard about the tornado, but since then, they've been determined to rebuild.
“Everybody that lives there just (wants) to see some normalcy again. Getting back to life before the tornado and getting rid of the wreck ... is everything to everyone that lives there,” Hudson said.
So the arduous process of rebuilding began for Hudson and her family. Dealing with contractors, paperwork and watching other businesses spring back to life before theirs created a lot of frustration.
Now — 10 and a half months later — the project that at first didn’t seem like it would ever to come to fruition has become a reality.
"I talked to (my dad) this morning, and I’m going to call him right as soon as I get out of here," said an excited Hudson after Sunday’s victory. "It's been a pretty stressful time for him. He’s just very relieved."
Hudson hasn’t seen the finished version of the building in person yet, but her father has kept her updated, sending pictures regularly of the construction process. She is hoping to see it soon.
Missouri travels to Oklahoma to play the Sooners later this month and Husdon said for that trip the team usually stops in Joplin to eat. She's hoping she can convince the coaches to let her go see the restaurant when they stop.