Erica Petersen didn’t think she would play this weekend, let alone close out a pair of wins in a softball doubleheader.
Petersen, a freshman pitcher for Missouri, has been on antibiotics for the past week to treat strep throat.
“I’ve been sick, so I didn’t expect to throw,” Petersen said.
Petersen’s pitching and the Tigers’ relaxed hitting powered Missouri past the Drake Bulldogs 7-1 and 10-2 in a Saturday doubleheader at University Field.
In the first game, Petersen closed out the final inning for the Tigers after Erin Kalka pitched six innings, allowing one run and striking out eight.
“I hadn’t even warmed up that much and I was in the locker room and all of the sudden everybody is shouting, ‘Erica, you’re in,’” Petersen said.
Petersen pitched two scoreless innings in the second game to get the save in relief of Samantha Fleeman, who left after a six-run Tigers’ outburst in the fourth inning. Fleeman collected two RBIs as the designated player in the first game.
“I just wanted to come in and get it done and have fun while I was doing it,” Petersen said.
Having fun seems to work for the Tigers.
As each Tiger batter stepped to the plate, teammates would begin chanting, cheering and yelling words of encouragement.
“This week we tried to make cheers for everybody so they would be loose,” Fleeman said. “That’s our big thing, being loose … everyone plays a lot better like that than when we’re tight.”
Tigers coach Ty Singleton could not agree more with his sophomore pitcher.
“What I like about the cheers is that it gets you focused on this moment,” Singleton said. “We’re so young that a lot of our energy has been spent thinking about all the options rather than just what we need to get done … what we need to execute in this moment.”
The cheers certainly seemed to work for shortstop Heather Kunkel.
Kunkel went 2-for-3 in the first game and scored three runs on the night.
Ashley Hays knocked in three runs for the Tigers in the first game and Morgan LeCluyse had two RBIs in the second game to lead Missouri (8-11).
“In the first game, we drove the ball really well,” Singleton said. “In the second game the pitcher (Jessica Hicks) did a good job of coming inside on us … in the middle of the game there was definitely a lull in us making an adjustment to that pitch.”
With the score 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Tigers finally caught on to Hicks’ pitching and capitalized on three errors, including second baseman Lauren Smith’s two.
Two innings later, the Tigers scored two runs, the last coming on an A.J. White double past shortstop Mollie Daniels, to activate the eight-run mercy rule and win the game an inning early.