TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Good pitching beats good hitting.
Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine repeated the adage Tuesday at practice, but with the intention that Missouri ace Chelsea Thomas would be the good pitching and the Alabama bats would be the good hitting. Not the other way around.
After outscoring opponents 102-6 in the past 10 games, No. 7/6 Missouri (22-3, 7-2 SEC) was shutout by No. 4/7 Alabama (34-5, 9-4 SEC), losing 4-1 in the first of the series in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The defending national champions scored their first two runs in the second inning off a double by No. 9 hitter Courtney Conley. Thomas (13-2) then allowed three hits and two runs in the third.
Thomas settled down, allowing just one hit in the next three innings, but Missouri's offense could not help out the Tiger ace.
Alabama's Jackie Traina held Missouri to just five hits and five walks, with Corrin Genovese getting two of those hits.
In the top of the seventh, Missouri showed some life with a leadoff single by Kayla Kingsley, but two straight ground outs put the Tigers down to their final out.
With Kingsley on third, Missouri's all-time leader in the category, Nicole Hudson, walked. A walk to Angela Randazzo put the bases loaded with two outs and the tying run, Kelsea Roth, up to bat.
Roth's hit, that deflected off the pitcher, scored Kingsley; the run helped the Tigers avoid being shutout for the first time this season. Mackenzie Sykes came up to bat with a chance to do more damage, but instead she popped up the first pitch to the Crimson Tide shortstop.
Rally over. Ballgame over. Tigers lose their third game of the season.
Thomas, who has started 18 of the Tigers' past 19 games, is likely to start Saturday, but Earleywine said Tuesday that it will depend on how Thomas feels Saturday morning.
Game 2 is set for 2 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU.