COLUMBIA — Hofstra's Caryn Bailey rounded third just after Missouri's Nicole Hudson grabbed a Hofstra single.
Everyone at University Field knew what was coming next. Hudson fired it to catcher Jenna Marston.
“Oh s---” Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine remembers thinking.
The throw was high, but Marston tagged Bailey and preserved the Tigers' 1-0 win over Hofstra in Saturday's NCAA Columbia Regional.
Missouri's Chelsea Thomas finished off Hofstra in the seventh. The Tigers escaped from a game where they were outhit eight to one, played badly at times and needed some luck to win.
Missouri will play Hofstra at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Hofstra beat Oregon State, 8-4 in 10 innings in the following elimination game to advance to the championship game. Hofstra would have to beat Missouri twice to win the double-elimination tournament.
If Missouri wins, it would host the Super Regional round vs. the winner of the University of Washington regional.
“I felt it was a pretty good throw when it left my hand,” Hudson said. “I was kind of surprised she went.”
Hudson rarely plays outfield. However, she was in the game as a defensive specialist.
"Outfield has always come kind of naturally to me, so it's not all that nerve-wracking out there," Hudson said.
Thomas pitched a complete game for Missouri, however, she was not the ace she normally is for the Tigers. She was battling an arm injury that caused her to lose feeling in her hand this week. That injury caused her to leave during the second inning of the SEC Tournament Championship game last Saturday.
Thomas said she felt “good” in the circle Saturday but declined to comment on specifics of how her hand felt. She looked rusty with such a long layoff between starts. But she pitched her way out of every jam.
Hofstra loaded the bases with no outs in the first inning before Thomas wiggled her way out of trouble with a force out at home and two strikeouts.
Hofstra had runners in scoring position throughout the game, but it could not get the hits to put the one crucial run on the board.
Hofstra coach Bill Edwards said he was trying to be aggressive on the play at the plate in the sixth. Late in the game, he felt he had to send Bailey, even though Bailey did not read the ball well on the play.
In the bottom of the third, a Hofstra error on an infield popup led to the Tigers' only run.
Earleywine said he was happy that his team escaped with a win, but he was unhappy about how poorly Missouri played against Hofstra.
"I feel like we got beat in almost every aspect of the game against Hofstra," Earleywine said. "I felt like there were too many pop-ups, not enough ground-ball approach."
But, Olivia Galati was also dominant in the circle for Hofstra. Galati threw just 59 pitches against 21 batters in a complete game for Hofstra. Her riseballs gave Missouri batters fits all day and often caused them to pop-up.
"If you look at the physics of that, if a riseball is going up, and you swing at it, you have one chance to hit it," Earleywine said.
The Tigers have done a good job of making adjustments this season. Earleywine said he wants them to "swing down" tomorrow.