Some filed in after the Missouri women’s basketball game ended. Others were there from the first pitch until the final out.
But no matter how long they stayed Saturday afternoon, one thing was certain about Missouri softball fans: They were in midseason form.
Missouri began its year with the annual Black and Gold intrasquad game in front of a crowd of 177, most situated in a bleacher near the south end zone of Faurot Field.
University Field, the team’s usual home, drains poorly and was too wet for play.
The crowd applauded the umpires for screaming out their “fair” and “foul” calls but was quick to second-guess them if a called third strike looked questionable.
Fans went wild for long fly balls and dazzling defensive plays and looked away when errors were made.
While the number of fans made the stadium look empty, the crowd mostly filled the bleacher.
“It’s hard to tell how great the turnout is when you’re dealing with a 60,000 seat stadium,” coach Ty Singleton said.
“For a Black and Gold game in February, when it doesn’t feel like softball season yet for most people except softball teams, I was pretty pleased.”
The Gold team won 8-3, breaking out for the deciding five runs in the fifth inning.
Two of those in attendance were Joe and Mary Lou Green of Ashland. They ventured over from Mizzou Sports Arena after the Tigers’ game.
“They announced this while we were over there,” Mary Lou Green said. “So we thought we’d come on down.”
It was the first Missouri softball game the couple had ever been to. Mary Lou said her employment at University Hospital prohibits her from attending most games.
“They play a lot of afternoon games and all and so I couldn’t come to any of those,” she said.
A group of Missouri athletes which included Brandon Coleman, the football team’s backup quarterback, was also on hand.
Coleman spoke of the bond the athletes of all Missouri sports share in going to one another’s games.
“They come to all our games and support us, so we support them,” he said.
On a weekend when several Big 12 softball teams opened their seasons in warmer climes, the Tigers played in unseasonably-warm Columbia.
While Kansas and Oklahoma State headed to Tucson, Ariz. for the Pepsi Challenge and Oklahoma played in Clearwater, Fla., it was 60 degrees before first pitch at Faurot.
“Tough to beat in February, this weather,” Singleton said. “To be able to be outside is a real blessing.”
Sophomore Amanda Jo White stood out in the Black team’s losing effort.
Mixed in with her one-for-three day at the plate were two spectacular third-inning catches in right field, including a diving stab of a Sarah Stringer drive to end the inning.
Not bad for a player being converted to the outfield after catching last year.