Tigers staying ahead with hard-hitting bats

Missouri faces test against Big 12 leader
Friday, April 29, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:32 a.m. CDT, Monday, June 30, 2008

A foul ball off the bat of Tiger shortstop Heather Kunkel had just whizzed by Missouri coach Ty Singleton’s head during Wednesday’s doubleheader.

The close call had left Singleton, who coaches third base when the team is at bat, grinning like he had gotten away with something.

“That ball was driven,” Singleton said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve had a ball hit at my head that hard, that close.”

After he wiped his brow and exhaled deeply in relief, though, Singleton kept smiling.

Hadn’t he just narrowly escaped potential injury?

“It was fun to see her hit the ball so hard,” Singleton said of Kunkel’s shot.

Hitting the ball hard has been the Tigers’ approach the entire season.

Singleton and his players asserted that by hitting seven home runs Wednesday at University Field.

They don’t look to hit the ball out of the park; they just try to hit line-drives and let the balls fall where they may.

Missouri was successful in executing its approach Wednesday, sweeping the North Dakota State Bison 9-1 and 8-0. Singleton said his team’s emotion shined through.

He also said he hopes their play can transfer over into this weekend, when the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies visit No. 19 Missouri (34-10, 6-7 Big 12) for a two-game series beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday.

“If we can fight with that heart and that relaxed confidence from pitch to pitch, I think it should be a fun weekend,” Singleton said.

Singleton quickly turned his attention to the Aggies after Wednesday’s game. He said he went home to watch their 5-3 victory against No. 6 Texas, which was nationally televised on ESPN2.

Texas A&M (42-4, 13-2) leads the conference standings. Its team batting average of .341 is tops in the Big 12. The Aggies rank third in team ERA (1.49), close behind the Tigers’ 1.44.

Missouri hopes it can draw big crowds this weekend and approach the single-game attendance record of 603 fans, set April 16 against Texas.

Saturday will be “Jimmy Buffett Day” at University Field. Stephanie Menio, the team’s marketing associate, said the promotion had earlier success at Lousiana State University.

Festivities will include an in-game cheeseburger-eating contest, set to Buffett’s song “Cheeseburgers in Paradise.”

Buffett’s music will be played on the public address system throughout the game. The Mid-Missouri ParrotHead club, a group of Buffett groupies, will also be on hand.

The afternoon will have a Hawaiian feel, Menio said. Although Buffett mostly sings about Florida, hula hoop activities will go on during the game and the first 500 fans will receive leis.

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