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Sweep gives Tigers shot at Big 12 softball title

Tied with Baylor atop conference, MU faces Bears this weekend.
Friday, April 27, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:51 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 4, 2008

As soon as Thursday’s games were over, a bag of ice was wrapped around Missouri second baseman Sarah Stringer’s right ankle. A bag of ice was there on Sunday too, but that was before the game, and Stringer was forced to sit out.

Stringer was cleated in the right Achilles trying to turn a double play on Saturday.

“I wanted to make sure to get the first out and stretched and left myself open a bit,” Stringer said.

The injury required five stitches, and Stringer admitted that she was a little worried about the severity of the injury because she was unable to walk on Sunday. No stranger to injury, Stringer broke her nose twice last season.

“I wouldn’t say I’m cursed, I’ve just had a little bad luck.”

However, this time the luck didn’t go against her. An MRI on Monday revealed no damage to the tendon and Stringer was able to return to the fifth position in the lineup on Thursday.

The Missouri softball team was glad to have her back. Stringer went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs in the second game of the Tigers’ 1-0, 5-0 doubleheader sweep of Iowa State at University Field.

Jen Bruck shut out the Cyclones in the first

game while Jana Hainey threw a complete game in the second.

The wins move Missouri into a tie with Baylor

for first place in the Big 12 Conference at 11-2.

“We had a lot of goals this year and (winning the conference title) was one of them,” Stringer said.

With just four games left in the season, including two this weekend against the Bears in Waco, Texas, the Tigers control their own fate for the conference championship.

The only time a Missouri team has won a Big 12 championship was the 1997 softball team, which won both the regular season and tournament titles. Is there any pressure for this team to win the school’s second title 10 years after the first?

“I think so. I think I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t. It’s fun pressure. The girls are out here loving it right now,” Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said.

Before the season, Earleywine met with the members of that 1997 team at a reunion.

“I told them, ‘You guys have what we want,’” Earleywine said.

Those hopes of a conference championship seemed a little out of reach after a loss March 17 to Western Illinois. After that loss, Earleywine said that the Tigers were just an average team. But since that game, the Tigers are 13-5.

“When it all turned around to me was when we went down to Louisville,” Earleywine said.

Bruck allowed just two runs in the first game of the Louisville series after throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings in her previous start against Texas Tech.

“Jen gave us back-to-back shutout type performances,” Earleywine said. “With that came a lot of confidence.”


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