COLUMBIA — Missouri softball pitcher Nicole Hudson personally made sure she would get a win Sunday afternoon.
Hudson's hot hitting and late game pitching performance helped lead Missouri past Tennessee 12-8 at University Field. Missouri won the series 2-1.
After giving up a run in the first inning of the game off Tennessee second baseman Lauren Gibson, Hudson hit a home run of her own, driving in Missouri second baseman Emily Crane.
In the second inning though, Tennessee made sure it would be a challenge for Hudson and the Missouri offense to make up for any of her bad pitches.
Gibson hit another home run, sending the ball zipped into the left field stands, right past Mackenzie Sykes' outstretched arm, driving in three runs. Hudson gave up a total of six runs that inning, putting Tennessee up 7-2. She stood with her glove on her hip as she watched the Tennessee softball team gather around home plate celebrating Gibson's home run.
"Kaboom," the Tennessee players chanted Sunday afternoon, celebrating the home run.
Hudson gave up 12 hits and eight runs in the game. But no matter how many runs she gave up, she found a way to make up for it. Hudson's chance at redemption came as she stepped in the box with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second.
"When I'm out there (in the circle) I just get so frustrated when I get knocked around," Hudson said. "So it makes me that (much) more eager to step into the box."
This time it was Tennessee pitcher Ellen Renfroe who watched the opposing team celebrate a pivotal home run as Hudson smacked a grand slam. She was greeted by her wide-smiled teammates patting her head as they made their way into the dugout.
Hudson, who had six RBI's and two home runs, said she made sure her teammates would score some runs as well.
"I told the girls if we put up 10 runs we would be good," Hudson said with a big grin on her face. "We went ahead and did it plus two. It was really just an amazing day all around."
In the second inning Crane walked, which scored shortstop Corrin Genovese. Catcher Rachel Hay also scored in the second inning, on a Tennessee error.
By the end of the second, Missouri was back on top 8-7.
After the second inning, Hudson shored up her pitching, giving up only one run for the rest of the game.
Hay added to the lead by driving in Sykes with a home run in the third inning. Crane and center fielder Jenna Marston scored two runs as well in the inning.
Hudson said maintaining a fun atmosphere helped them play better. Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said they might have been too relaxed at times, but it worked in Missouri's favor.
"They were really loose, like scary loose, like I wanted to tighten them up a little bit," Earleywine said of the atmosphere in the dugout. "Man, they were super loose today and girls usually perform pretty well like that."
Sunday's game was the last of the regular season for Missouri, and the last regular season game for its graduating seniors.
The game was halted in the middle of the sixth inning due to Tennessee's travel plans. The Volunteers needed to hit the road to catch a flight in St. Louis.
A halted game means the Southeastern Conference could have forced the teams to finish the game when they travel to Lexington, Ky., next week. However, the SEC announced the win was final about an hour after the game.