COLUMBIA — Before the Missouri softball team's game against No. 3-ranked Texas on Thursday night, Tigers coach Ehren Earleywine said that if the Tigers could "scratch together three or four runs" with All-American pitcher Chelsea Thomas on the mound, they would have a 95 percent chance of winning.
Unfortunately for Earleywine and his Tigers, the odds weren't with them.
Thomas took the loss in Thursday night's game making her record 14-4. The five runs she gave up increased her ERA from .58 to .90.
Despite scoring five runs, only five Missouri batters managed to get hits. Senior Ashley Fleming had three. Freshman infielder Ashtin Stephens had two, and upperclassmen Nicole Husdon and Jenna Marston each added one.
Fleming's three hits and three RBIs against Texas keep her in the team-lead in both categories, hitting .385 with 27 RBIs.
Missouri scored five runs against two-time All-Big 12 pitcher Blaire Luna, but despite the more than adequate offensive output, it was not nearly enough to keep up with conference-leading Texas, which defeated the Tigers 9-5 in Austin.
Missouri (28-6, 7-3 Big 12) jumped out to an early 3-0 lead against the Big 12’s best hitting team, but when the fifth inning rolled around, arguably the Big 12's best pitcher began to fall apart.
Thomas hadn't surrendered more than two earned runs in a game since Feb. 26 against No. 21 UCLA. Against Texas on Thursday, she gave up five runs in one inning, vaulting the Longhorns in front of the Tigers 5-3.
And after seeing their usually unhittable leader unravel, the rest of the team followed suit. In the sixth inning, the Tigers' three errors lead to four Longhorns runs (three unearned), extending the Texas lead to 9-3 and essentially ending the game.
The nine runs allowed by Missouri is the most it has surrendered all season. The three Tigers errors are the most they've had since the sixth game of the season.
On Thursday afternoon, Earleywine said his team would have to play a near perfect game if they wanted to prevent Texas (32-2, 6-0 Big 12) from extending its home winning streak to 19 games. Clearly, that didn't happen.
The Tigers' next shot at knocking off their conference rivals and ending the streak is at 7 p.m. Friday night in Austin. Senior pitcher Kristin Nottelmann (9-2, 1.73 ERA) is expected to get the start.