No. 16 Missouri softball hits road without key player

Thursday, April 3, 2014 | 8:45 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The No. 16 Missouri softball team heads into a three-game series against Mississippi State fresh off taking two of three games against No. 15 Georgia last weekend.

But in the process of earning its first series win of Southeastern Conference play, Missouri (25-9, 4-5) lost sophomore right fielder Emily Crane to a sprained medial collateral ligament.

Missouri at Mississippi State

Game 1: Friday 6 p.m.

Game 2: Saturday 3 p.m.

Game 3: Sunday 1 p.m.

Crane suffered the left knee injury last Friday after colliding with center fielder Taylor Gadbois in the outfield. Crane said Wednesday she expects to miss two to four weeks.

“She’s our second fastest kid," coach Ehren Earleywine said. "She’s got a good arm in right field. I don’t think we can replace her. We're just going to have to get better at other positions and maybe pitch a little bit better.”

The injury leaves a large hole in the Missouri lineup. Crane, the Tigers’ three-hole hitter, is batting .411 with 12 stolen bases in 32 games.

Earleywine said he is considering four players — a trio of freshman in Kelli Schkade, Natalie Fleming and Casey Stangel, and junior Angela Randazzo — to play right field in Crane’s absence.

“It’s just going to be a revolving door until someone shows me they can play right field and maybe put a bat on the ball,” Earleywine said.

Missouri will travel to take on a Mississippi State (29-10, 2-7) squad known for its pitching. The Bulldogs feature three pitchers with a sub-2.00 ERA.

“If we don’t hit, it could be a very long weekend,” Earleywine said.

Supervising editor is Wade Livingston

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