Even Missouri softball head coach Ehren Earleywine admitted that when his star pitcher Chelsea Thomas went down with a stress fracture in her throwing arm, he wasn’t sure how his team was going to react or respond. Well, once the team got over the loss, they dusted themselves off and now find themselves back at the College Softball World Series.
No. 9 seed Missouri will face No. 16 Hawaii in the first game of the WCWS in Oklahoma City at noon Thursday. The Tigers will be without their power pitcher Thomas, who helped lead them to their first ever trip to the Series, but now the Tigers have found other ways to win.
The first is with pitchers Kristin Nottelmann and Jana Hainey. The sophomore and senior jumped into that roll of leading pitchers and along with a potent offense, held onto their top 10 ranking all season while advancing to the Big 12 championship game against Oklahoma. Then, with wins over Creighton and two against Illinois, earned the right to host Oregon in the Super Regional where the Tigers swept the Ducks 1-0 and 7-2 to gain another trip to Oklahoma.
Women’s College World Series At A Glance
Eight teams are divided into two four-team pools. Each pool plays a round-robin schedule; the teams with the best records from each pool will meet in a best-of-three final next week. All games are played at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City.
Thursday Pool 1
(9) Missouri vs. (16) Hawaii, Noon (ESPN)
(5) UCLA vs. (4) Florida, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Thursday Pool 2
(10) Arizona vs. (15) Tennessee, 6 p.m. (ESPN2)
(6) Georgia vs. (3) Washington, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
Pool 1 team tidbits
The Tigers are 51-11 and the No. 9 seed. The 51 victories is a school record. Missouri is hitting .299 and has an impressive .403 on-base percentage. Center fielder and leadoff hitter Rhea Taylor leads the team with a .442 average; she has seven homers, eight triples and 47 stolen bases. Ashley Fleming is hitting .376 while Jenna Marston checks in at .371 with a team-best 52 RBI. The Tigers have won 15 of their last 17 games. Missouri has just three seniors on its roster.
The Rainbow Wahine are 49-14 and the No. 16 seed. Hawaii eliminated No. 1 seed Alabama in shocking fashion, winning two games in Tuscaloosa after being run-ruled in Game One. The Rainbow Wahine won the decisive third game on two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning. The fact that Hawaii won thanks to a homer wasn’t shocking; the team set an NCAA record with 154 homers this season (Texas led the Big 12 with 88 round trippers). Melissa Gonzalez is hitting .408 with 25 homers while Kelly Majam is hitting .406 with 30 homers.
The Bruins are 45-11 and the No. 5 seed. UCLA is making its 24th trip to the WCWS. Senior first baseman/pitcher Megan Langenfeld is one of three finalists for the USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Award. She’s hitting an eye-popping .500 with 16 homers and 49 RBI. As a pitcher, she’s 11-1