Leanne Bowers was in unfamiliar territory during her first two at-bats Sunday.
Missouri coach Ty Singleton had flipped Bowers and usual No. 2 hitter Janessa Roening in the lineup in the Tigers’ 1-0 win against Nebraska at University Field, their last game of the regular season.
It was the second shuffle she had been a part of in the last 11 days.
Bowers wasn’t part of the starting lineup before Game 2 of the Tigers’ April 27 doubleheader against North Dakota State.
For the first time in her Missouri career, then at 98 games, Bowers did not lead off and start in center field.
After Roening ended the Tiger fifth Sunday with a flyout to right field, Bowers got the chance to do what she has grown most accustomed to. She led off the sixth.
Bowers worked the count to 3-0 against Cornhuskers pitcher Ashley DeBuhr (21-17) and stepped out of the batter’s box.
Singleton knew his team needed baserunners against DeBuhr. She had held the Tigers to five hits in 12 innings in the weekend series before Bowers came to the plate.
Many in the crowd of 420 agreed with him. One fan shouted, “One more ball, let’s go.”
Singleton flashed the sign for Bowers to take the next pitch, a strike that caught the outside corner.
Bowers stepped out again and looked for the sign. Her orders were to not be as passive.
She hit the next pitch high to left field. The ball, aided slightly by the wind, snuck over the wall for her ninth home run this season.
One run proved to be enough support for Erin Kalka (7-5). She struck out 10 and walked none against Nebraska (33-18, 9-9 Big 12), her third complete game this season.
“I just felt like all my pitches were working,” Kalka said. “They were really breaking a lot.”
The stadium lights were turned on before Kalka came out to the circle to start the seventh. An ominous-looking sky had cast shadows over the field.
Singleton didn’t make the request, but he was glad the change was made.
“The lights on the scoreboard were getting really bright, so it was definitely getting dark around,” he said.
Kalka, meanwhile, didn’t notice.
“I was just going out there the same as every other inning,” she said.
The No. 15 Tigers (38-11, 10-8) finished fifth in the conference standings. They will open the Big 12 tournament against fourth-seeded Baylor at 11 a.m. Thursday in Oklahoma City.
The No. 11 Bears swept Missouri April 23-24 in Waco, Texas, winning both games by a run.