ST. CHARLES — After splitting a doubleheader against unranked Illinois on Wednesday, the No. 16 Missouri softball team wasn't doing much bragging — even after an impressive scoring barrage in the most recent game.
In the bottom of the fifth inning of game two, freshman infielder Natalie Fleming rounded the bases for an inside-the-park home run — the Tigers' fifth hit and sixth run of the inning. Missouri won 9-6, but after losing 3-0 in the first game, the Tigers weren't pleased.
"I don't remember a play on defense or an at-bat where there wasn't something mentally and mechanically wrong with it," coach Ehren Earleywine said. "You feel like you pour so much time into what they do and make sure they do it right. It's one of the most disappointing days I've ever coached."
Balls bounced off Missouri's gloves, allowing Illini players to get on base — and later score — as Tiger fans groaned. Two of Illinois' three runs in Game 1, in fact, were unearned.
But fielding wasn't the only problem, especially in the first game.
"I attribute all of the lack of success in Game 1 to our hitters' approaches," Earleywine said. Missouri left six runners on base in the game. "It's embarrassing. It's past belief."
With slap hitters at the beginning of Missouri's lineup leading the offense, Earleywine counts the innings until they're back up to bat again. Power hitters aren't showing up, he said, and "it's depressing."
So Missouri tried a different lineup in Game 2, which gave spectators at Lindenwood University the chance to see Fleming cross home plate into her team's huddle of cheers.
But Earleywine still expects more. He doesn't just want players to be happy to be in the lineup — he wants them to perform.
Players aren't happy with the results, either.
"Honestly, it sucks," sophomore outfielder Taylor Gadbois said before dragging her equipment to the team bus.
Missouri hosts No. 13 Georgia for a weekend series beginning Friday. Perhaps that series will give the Tigers something to brag about.
Supervising editor is Mark Selig.