Five innings were all the Missouri softball team needed to earn its first Southeastern Conference tournament victory Thursday and advance to the semifinals.
"Oh man, that was huge," Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said of the short game. "That was best-case scenario."
Topped off by a double by freshman Emily Crane in the bottom of the fifth to score sophomore Corrin Genovese, No. 3 seed Missouri beat No. 6 seed Arkansas 8-0 in a run-rule game at John Cropp Stadium at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky.
Junior Mackenzie Sykes and sophomore Kelsea Roth led Missouri's offense with three RBIs apiece. Sykes went 3-for-3 with a two-run triple in the third, while Roth hit a two-run home run in the fifth.
"Both of those kids had huge days and kind of carried our team as far as RBIs," Earleywine said.
In the circle, Missouri ace Chelsea Thomas held Arkansas batters to just two hits and a walk, with five strikeouts. After the game, Thomas told Earleywine that she was not feeling any fatigue, so she is likely to start Friday in the semifinals.
"If we continue to play sound defensively, and we can keep Chelsea healthy, with the way we're swinging the bats, we could be a pretty dangerous team down the stretch," Earleywine said.
Missouri (34-10, 15-8 SEC) will take on the winner of the Tennessee vs. South Carolina game in the tournament semifinals at 2:30 p.m. CST Friday on ESPNU. With rain in the forecast, Earleywine said there is a chance Missouri's game might get rained out and postponed until Saturday.
"Either way, I like our chances with Chelsea feeling good about if we had to play tomorrow, she feels good, and if we get rained out tomorrow, obviously that would just be an extra benefit to give her another day's rest," Earleywine said.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.