COLUMBIA — Chelsea Thomas pitched her last game for Missouri at home.
It was a loss to Washington in the Super Regionals that sent the Huskies to the Women's College World Series, while Thomas had to take off her black and gold jersey for the last time. The end of that game came emotionally, and Thomas stayed in the Tigers' locker room long after the game ended knowing her career at Missouri was over.
The Missourian is counting down the most memorable moments in Columbia sports, honoring the top athletes and programs of 2013. The No. 1 moment will be revealed on Dec. 31.
“I just felt like it was an injustice to try to capture all that they’ve done. To try just wasn’t fair,” Coach Ehren Earleywine said of his four seniors after the game, the loss still heavy. “I couldn’t talk anyway, I was hurting pretty bad.”
When Thomas emerged she was greeted with love and support from fans, family and her teammates. She took time to hug loved ones and take pictures before she walked from University Field to the Missouri Athletic Training Complex with fellow seniors Nicole Hudson, Jenna Marston and Rachel Hay for the last time.
Her career as a Tiger ended before she wanted it to, but it was one of the most decorated in school history and her five years as a Tiger changed the face of Missouri softball.
Thomas is a three-time first team All-American.
She was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Year during the Tigers first season in the league adding to the two Big 12 Player of the Year awards she had already won in 2011 and 2012.
She won five SEC Player of the Weeks, becoming only the second player to ever win five weekly awards in one season.
She left Missouri having the most wins of any pitcher (111) and the most strikeouts (1,174).
During her freshman year at Missouri, she led the Tigers to their first College softball World Series appearance in 15 years.
During her final season, Thomas finished with league-bests in conference wins (13), conference strikeouts (117) and conference opposing batting average and had a 1.16 ERA.
Her career with the Tigers is a long list of records she broke and awards she accumulated. When she left Columbia in the spring of 2013, Thomas left a lasting impact on Missouri.
For Thomas, softball was destined to always linger close, and before the end of May she signed with the United States Specialty Sports Florida Pride. Her jersey is now black and red and her number is 1, but it was the No. 18 black and gold jersey Thomas wore at Missouri for five years that helped get her there.