No. 13 Missouri softball sweeps Ole Miss

Saturday, April 19, 2014 | 7:29 p.m. CDT
The Missouri Tigers' softball team played the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday, winning 9-1.

COLUMBIA — The sound of shattering glass.

Ole Miss freshman Alyssa Invergo's third-inning foul ball blasted into the press box window, transforming it a pile of shards.

That moment claimed much of the excitement of the game between No. 13 Missouri and Ole Miss up to that point. The Tigers would end up winning the game 9-1 in six innings to take their second-straight series sweep, but it took a while to get to that point.

Missouri managed just five hits in the first five innings. Freshman Natalie Fleming hit a solo home run in the second — her third homer of the series and maybe the sole exception to the slow pace. Otherwise, the Tigers scraped in a few runs off groundouts and errors.

"Early in the game, I didn't like some of the management of our at-bats," Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said.

The Tigers' struggle seemed representative of sophomore right fielder Emily Crane's. She'd just come back to play this series after injuring her left MCL in Game 1 against Georgia on March 28. After hobbling around on crutches with a large brace for three weeks, she was finally back at the plate.

Her signature "Under the Sea" walk-up song blared as the crowd cheered louder than usual for her first at-bat back Friday against the Rebels. She lifted the bat into the air and twisted it in her usual routine.

She grounded out.

This began a kind of trend for Crane over the series, where she went 2-for-10 over the three games.

"I kept rolling over," Crane said. "It was so annoying. I was like, 'Emily, this is not you. Stop.'"

But things started picking up for the Tigers in the sixth inning against the Rebels, when they nearly doubled their hits for the game by adding four in the frame.

That's when things changed for Crane as well.

"Under the Sea" played again. Crane twisted the bat in the air again and stepped to the plate.

But this time, she made it to first. And her teammates Taylor Gadbois and Kelli Schkade made it home.

"I was, like, praying, I was just like, 'Just let me get on base,'" Crane said. "Putting those two runs in obviously made a difference, so that made me feel good, too."

With Southeastern Conference opponents Florida and Alabama looming in the near future, Missouri will need all the strength they can get.

Even after an injury, Crane could help with that.

"She's not back full-tilt yet, but she's still good enough to be in the three-hole, and she's still a great right fielder," Earleywine said. "And she's just gonna continue to get better as she starts to get more comfortable."

Just like that window, Crane's slump had shattered.

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