Missouri softball pitcher Chelsea Thomas takes first loss of season

Saturday, March 9, 2013 | 7:11 p.m. CST; updated 3:28 a.m. CDT, Sunday, March 10, 2013
The Missouri softball team lost 11-3 to Texas A&M on Saturday at home. The Tigers dropped to 10-2 (1-1 SEC).

COLUMBIA — Chelsea Thomas was the only player sitting on the bench in the Missouri dugout. She looked down at a bloody finger and reflected on what just happened. 

The 2012 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year isn’t used to giving up home runs or being taken out of games with an "L" on her line, but in game two of the series against Texas A&M, the Tiger ace gave up her first and second home runs of the season to Aggie Cali Lanphear. 

“One girl and two pitches,” Thomas said.

After Thomas gave up the second home run, a hard hit line drive that got out of the park in a hurry, in the top of the sixth, coach Ehren Earleywine made the walk from the dugout to the pitching circle to release his starting pitcher. He told her she was done for the day and to be ready to pitch tomorrow. 

"It's just a freak thing," Earleywine said. "She just didn't have it."

Thomas took her first loss and gave up 5 runs. Through her first four games on the season, she won four and only gave up five runs total.

Thomas kept her back to the scoreboard that posted the 5-2 Tiger deficit and jogged off the field. When she got to the dugout, she high-fived a couple players and sat on the bench, where she would watch her teammate Nicole Hudson try to hold the Aggie offense. Thomas cheered for her reliever, but it was no use.

"I got pounded," Hudson said.

Hudson, who has been Missouri's best hitter this season, is adjusting to the role as the No. 2-pitcher in the rotation after the transfer of sophomore Bailey Erwin from the team last week.

"It's unfortunate that she has to be put in this position, but she's a fighter and she's not going to be backed down from any challenge," Thomas said of Hudson. 

Earleywine still expects Thomas (4-1) to pitch the rubber match of the series at noon on Sunday. Her finger, which bloodied from the friction of throwing rise balls, caused her some pain throughout the game, but she said it didn't affect her pitching too much and she will be fine tomorrow.
"I'm interested in seeing what this awakens in Chelsea because she typically comes back really strong," Earleywine said.

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