COLUMBIA — A month into the season, the Missouri softball team got its first chance to play on its home field.
The empty stands looked out at University Field on Wednesday, the field occupied by the Missouri softball team for the first time this season. The clanking of a cable against an empty flagpole echoed through the mostly barren stadium as the Tigers finished an intrasquad game. Finally, Missouri had been released from the dim lighting of the Devine Practice Facility. Managers chased home runs and foul balls that made it over the fence.
It was the same fence over which junior first baseman Kelsea Roth hit her two-run walk-off home run against Texas A&M last season. That hit gave the Tigers their first conference win since moving to the Southeastern Conference from the Big 12.
Roth still remembers the homer.
"That was my favorite moment of softball since I've been here," Roth said. "I would like to have that feeling again if I could."
The next day, though, the Aggies handed the Tigers their first conference loss.
Now, Missouri prepares to face Texas A&M again Friday in its first conference series of the season. The team acknowledges it's not perfect this year. Roth and others have struggled, coach Ehren Earleywine said.
Many think that this is because of what kept the Tigers from finishing their series with the Aggies last season: the weather. Last year, rain at University Field canceled the final game of the series between Missouri and Texas A&M.
"They hadn't been in the sun, and it was really hot and they played a lot of games, so they just said that they were just dragging," Earleywine said of the Tigers, who have played in Florida, California and Texas so far this season. "You gotta push through that stuff."
The team is excited for its chance at redemption.
"Texas A&M, I mean, they're a big rival for us," Roth said. "And coach really likes to beat them."
No. 15 Missouri will play a three-game series against No. 13 Texas A&M on Friday through Sunday in College Station, Texas.
The former Big 12 teams — weather permitting — will finally get a definitive result as SEC rivals.
Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.