After Blaire Luna shut out Missouri on Saturday, the Tigers came back against Luna on Sunday, to salvage a split in the series with Texas, with a 6-3 come-from-behind victory over the Longhorns.
The series split leaves Missouri at 43-7, and 12-3 in the conference, just a game behind the league-leading Longhorns, who sit at 45-7, and 14-3 in the conference. Texas has a game against Baylor remaining next Sunday, while Missouri plays at Oklahoma State on Wednesday, and then hosts a pair against Iowa State next weekend, to close out the conference, and the regular season.
Sophomore Nicole Hudson was the hitting star on Sunday, going 3 for 4 at the plate, with a two-run home run, and an RBI double, as well as an RBI single. She drove in 4 of the 6 Missouri runs, twice bringing Missouri back, by driving in the tying runs. Jenna Marston went 2 for 2, with 2 RBIs, as well.
"This just shows that we're not going to back down," said Hudson, emphatically. "They got the best of us yesterday. But, we came out fighting a lot harder. We were not going to let them sweep us on our own field. That's for sure!"
In the bottom of the first, with Missouri trailing 1-0, Hudson singled up the middle, driving Rhea Taylor home from third. Trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the third, Marston coaxed a walk out of Luna (27-5), and then Hudson lined a shot over the center-field wall to tie the score at 3.
"She left it out over the plate," said Hudson, talking about the pitch that she sent over the center-field wall. "I was seeing the ball incredibly well today."
It was then that Chelsea Thomas (25-5, 0.83 ERA) seemed to step it up, and held the Longhorns scoreless the rest of the day, finishing with 8 strikeouts against the powerful Texas line-up.
"You know, they got a couple of hits, and a couple of runs," explained Thomas, talking about how she bowed her neck after the third inning. "And, that adrenaline rush just kind of kicked in, and we just kind of went for it from there."
Coach Earleywine called Texas "the best team we've faced this year". The Missouri hitters had adjusted, after managing just 2 hits, both off of Hudson's bat, against Luna on Saturday. He attributed the increased success against Luna on Sunday to a more patient approach by his hitters, getting better pitches to hit.
"I think that was the difference-maker in the day," explained Coach Earleywine. "We made Luna throw strikes, that we could hit. And when we got pitches that we could hit, I think we did a pretty good job of squaring them up."
In the bottom of the fourth, Megan Christopher led off with a walk. Taylor Duplechain pinch-ran for the senior catcher, who twice gunned out runners attempting to steal second base. With two outs, and Duplechain on third base, Marston drove an outside pitch through the left side to score the freshman, putting Missouri ahead to stay, at 4-3. Hudson followed with a double into the left-center field gap, and the fleet-footed shortstop came all of the way around, to make the score Missouri 5 - Texas 3.
"I think Nicole (Hudson) is just on fire right now," exclaimed Coach Earleywine. "I don't think it matters who's pitching. She's just unconscious right now. So, don't anybody pinch her."
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Rhea Taylor, who finished with 2 hits on the day, bunted her way on, then stole second, before she came home on Marston's second RBI single of the day.
Missouri has a difficult assignment, traveling to Stillwater during exam week, to take on a tough Oklahoma State squad, before returning for a weekend series against the Cyclones. Winning out assures Missouri of no worse than a share of the conference title.
NCAA selections will be made next Sunday, May 15th.