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Columbia Missourian

Missouri softball bats come alive as Tigers beat Alabama

By Kelsie Heneghan
April 6, 2013 | 5:57 p.m. CDT

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — She had to come back.

Missouri ace Chelsea Thomas sat on the bench with a 9-0 lead over Alabama going into the bottom of the seventh. In an effort to rest his starting pitcher, coach Ehren Earleywine brought in Nicole Hudson to relieve Thomas.

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In her two-thirds innings of work, Hudson gave up four runs, three of them earned, on three hits and three walks.

With runners on first and second and two out, Thomas had to come back in to close out the game.

"It's so very frustrating," Earleywine said. 

A quick strikeout later, and Thomas was finally done for the day, giving the No. 7/6 Tigers (23-3, 8-2) the 9-4 lead over No. 4/7 Alabama (34-6, 9-5 SEC) in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Thomas allowed five hits and five walks on just three strikeouts, unusal numbers for the 2012 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year.

"She didn't have anything today," Earleywine said. "She was able to pitch herself out of it just with sheer guts and determination."

After scoring only one run Friday, Missouri's bats returned to their hot hitting Saturday with 10 hits against Alabama. 

“Balls that we hit well today actually found holes, yesterday it felt that we were snakebitten," Earleywine said. "Every time we hit a good ball, there was somebody standing there and that’s just the way the game goes sometimes.”

Kayla Kingsley led Missouri's offense going 3-3 with an RBI, a run and two stolen bases. Kelsea Roth and Mackenzie Sykes also did their parts with back-to-back home runs in the seventh. Roth is now tied with Hudson for the team lead with 10 home runs.

Redshirt freshman Carlie Rose was given the start in right field over regular starter Sarah Moore after Moore went 0-2 in Game 1.

"Sarah struggled last night, it looked like she had trouble finding her timing and Carlie's been putting up such good numbers hitting," Earleywine said."I just thought I'd give her a shot at it."

Missouri looks to win the rubber match of the series against the Southeastern Conference competitor, with a game at noon Sunday. Thomas is expected to pitch again for the Tigers.

"I don't know if she's going to be ready, but she's going to pitch," Earleywine said with a laugh. "Really, her 75 percent is much better than any other option that we have."

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.