COLUMBIA – This wasn't how it was supposed to go.
She's supposed to be untouchable. Unbeatable. Invincible.
The Missouri offense only gave junior pitcher Chelsea Thomas one run of support in Saturday's 6-1 loss to LSU despite seven different players collecting eight hits. Missouri left 10 runners on base.
Senior pitcher Kristin Nottelmann relieved Thomas in the fifth inning, tossing two and two-thirds innings allowing only one run and striking out three.
LSU pitcher, Rachele Fico pitched a complete game Saturday night. She stuck out five Missouri batters and walked only two.
But Saturday night in Missouri softball's 6-1 loss in the NCAA super regional opener against LSU, ace Chelsea Thomas was anything but superhuman.
Instead her alter ego took the mound for the black and gold Tigers. And it wasn't pretty.
She gave up five runs in four and one-third innings while conceding a season high six walks. She also plunked two batters that forced in two runs in her nightmare of a fifth inning.
It was the most un-Thomas-like performance of her season, and maybe her life.
"I really can't think back on a worse game for me," Thomas said after the game. "It was just an off day."
Thomas chalked it up to a lack of control. Her coach, Ehren Earleywine, said that while his star clearly wasn't herself Saturday evening, the 90-degree weather played a part in Thomas' collapse.
"I think she overheated," Earleywine said. "I think that's the hottest game that we played in all year. You could tell in the second or third inning her face was starting to get really red and I can tell she was hot. And when that happened, I felt like she really lost her legs."
LSU, on the other hand, credited a solid game plan as the prime reason for its success, but Earleywine wasn't so quick to give credence to that explanation.
"Chelsea had six walks," Earleywine said. "You don't need to have much of a game plan if you give up six walks in five innings. And a couple of hit batters, I mean those are freebies. They hit one ball on the barrel off Chelsea. One."
The plan the entire season, as Missouri coaches and players have so often repeated, is to score three or four runs per game to support a usually dominant Thomas.Saturday, neither the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year nor the offense held up their end of the bargain.
Sunday, Missouri will have to attempt to win two games in a row in order to win this best-of-three game series and advance to the Women's College World Series.
"We're going to find out a lot about this softball team tomorrow when its nearly 100 degrees and we have to win 14 innings against a very good LSU team," Earleywine said.
The first game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at University Field. If Missouri wins, the next game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.