Minutes after her team lost 11-1 to Baylor in five innings Sunday at University Field, Missouri assistant coach Autumn Eastes lingered in the dugout mulling the Tigers’ fourth straight defeat. Before entering the team room to meet with her players, Eastes stood on the top step and leaned on the railing in front of the bench, occasionally closing her eyes or shuffling the dirt around her feet.
In the first inning, Missouri right fielder Janessa Roening chose not to be like her coach and keep her emotions quiet. After pitcher Jen Bruck walked Baylor designated player Tessa Lynam with the bases loaded to give the Bears a 2-0 lead, Roening raised her arms and yelled toward home plate, disputing the call. Three batters later, there was no argument Roening could make to change the course of the game.
In her second at-bat of the first inning, Baylor left fielder Kelly Osburn hit a grand slam over Roening’s head to put Missouri (18-15, 2-2) behind 8-0 after 2/3 of an inning. Two of the runners that scored either walked or were hit by a Bruck (16-10) pitch.
“My control wasn’t there. It’s tough when youre struggling with control and the umpire,” Bruck said. “He had a tight strike zone, but it was consistent both ways. It’s just tough getting it done when your control’s not there.”
Missouri center fielder Micaela Minner, who stopped just short of guaranteeing a Missouri win on Saturday but promised that her team would “fight harder,” said she was surprised about what happened to her team in the first inning.
“The first inning was tough. They came out swinging, came out battling,” Minner said. “There were a couple plays, a couple pitches that could have went the other way.
“Baylor hitting a grand slam was tough to take. I thought we were going to take that and get in the box and do the same thing,” Minner said.
Missouri didn’t, scoring their lone run in the third inning. The run was the only one the Tigers scored off Baylor pitcher Lisa Ferguson during the weekend. In 12 innings of work, Ferguson gave up one earned run on three walks and nine strike outs.
The closest the Tigers came to putting up multiple runs in an inning was in the bottom of the fifth. Trailing by 10, Missouri needed three runs to keep the game going. Missouri loaded the bases with one out, only to have pinch hitter Sara Simons and center fielder Leanne Bowers pop out to end the game.
“I don’t know if its like ‘we need this many runs to stay in the game’ to try harder. But we came out with a little fight in the fifth,” Minner said. “It’s almost going to have to be an individual choice by everybody. I don’t know what to say, what to do. Everyone has to make that decision individually to come out fighting every inning.”
If Missouri hopes to win either of its next two games, they will definitely have to come out fighting every inning. Missouri will play a two-game series next weekend at No. 1 Texas. The Longhorns (38-3, 5-0) feature pitcher Cat Osterman, who is 23-1 this season and was a member of the United States’ gold-medal winning softball team at the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“We’ve shown that when we play well we can play with anybody,” Missouri coach Ty Singleton said. “Today we showed we didn’t have a good approach. We’re gonna work hard and get ready for Saturday.”
Despite getting swept by Baylor, Minner said she is is eager to play Texas.
“I’m excited and ready for the challenge,” Minner said. “I hope and think that’s the attitude for the rest of the team.”