COLUMBIA — The Missouri softball team was knocking at the door.
With the bases loaded in the fourth inning against Texas A&M, Chloe Rathburn came to the plate and shot a grounder to the Aggies' second baseman, who promptly threw wildly toward the home dugout.
Taylor Gadbois scurried home. Emily Crane followed.
Just like the rest of the series, everything was going Missouri's way.
The No. 19 Tigers (34-12, 9-9 Southeastern Conference) defeated the No. 16 Texas A&M Aggies 7-1 Monday at University Field, securing the program's first SEC series sweep this season on a night Kolby Romaine will never forget.
The freshman found herself in Missouri's starting lineup Monday against Texas A&M and made the most of the opportunity.
Romaine smacked two home runs in back-to-back innings, the second a two-run bomb to center field to pad her team's lead to six runs.
"(Kolby)'s been waiting for her chance to start," senior Emily Crane said. "On her first home run, I told her, 'Way to keep your spot, man, that's awesome.' And she went and did it again, and I was like, 'Alright, geez, Kolby, calm down.'"
The Chino Hills, California, native has six hits on the season during limited playing time as a utility player. Four of those are home runs. Romaine said the power surge gives her confidence a big boost going forward.
"If she keeps hitting four home runs out of every six hits, I'm cool with that," coach Ehren Earleywine said.
The Tigers' pitchers were held in suspense of who would start until 30 minutes before first pitch. The lineup is posted in the team's dugout prior to every game, and this time, Earleywine took longer than usually to tell his players.
But that was not because Earleywine, known for his meticulous coaching style, was still contemplating the decision.
"I was having to water my yard at home, and the sprinklers were all over the place, so I got here late," he quipped. "I had water all over me. My dog was running around. It was a mess."
All the while, Cheyenne Baxter was waiting to get an opportunity. The junior admitted she was "very shocked" when she heard the news from teammate Amanda Sanchez.
"I thought she was joking," Baxter said.
By the time the game began, the Norborne, Missouri, native got serious. Her off-speed pitch got the best of the Aggies the first time through its order when she retired seven in a row. The junior only gave up one run in four innings.
Paige Lowary came in to pitch the final three innings to close out the win.
The victory was the Tigers' fifth in a row and brings the team's SEC record to .500 with two more conference series remaining before the conference tournament. But for Missouri, the key will be to keep the momentum and not fall back into a slump like earlier in the season.
"To finally go ahead and grab hold of a sweep is really good going into Mississippi State next weekend," Crane said. "We'll see if we can put some more hurt on people."
Before Missouri gets to Starkville, Mississippi, the team is scheduled to face Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, during a doubleheader on Wednesday. The first game is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. with the second to immediately follow.
"I'm just a fan, really, at this point," Earleywine said. "I couldn't be in a better place with my girls right now.
"I'd play anybody right now."
Supervising editor is Mike Mandell.