BATON ROUGE, La. – At practice Thursday, Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine stressed the importance of defense with a two-pitch drill.
Each batter would only get two pitches and she had to swing at one of them. This drill would ensure that the players would get plenty of opportunities to field balls.
"That's all you can do is just practice it, and coach it along the way," Earleywine said Thursday. "There's no question that our defense has been an area of concern for me."
The drill didn't have quite the effect Earleywine was looking for as Missouri committed five errors in a five-inning 8-0 loss to LSU Saturday.
In a game-time decision, Earleywine decided to rest his ace Chelsea Thomas, who won Game 1 Friday, and start Nicole Hudson. In just her fourth start of the season, Hudson allowed three earned runs on eight hits, throwing two wild pitches. She threw just three strikeouts.
“When you have a pitcher like Chelsea for three years and she’s striking out all these kids, I think it blinds everyone to the reality of your defense, whether they’re good or not, you don’t know because you’re striking out 14 kids a game," Earleywine said. "But when you have 30 and 40 balls put into play, you start to figure out really quick where your weak spots are."
Center fielder Taylor Gadbois, who Earleywine said was his best defensive outfielder, committed two of the Missouri errors, with catcher Rachel Hay and second baseman Emily Crane also committing errors.
Missouri didn't do much better at the plate.
LSU pitcher Ashley Czechner held Missouri batters to two hits and one walk in her ninth win of the season.
A rested Thomas is likely to start the rubber match of the series between Missouri (25-7, 10-6 SEC) and LSU (37-10, 12-5 SEC), set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Tiger Park.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.