Story by Kelsie Heneghan
Photos by Barbara Maningat
According to the scoreboard, Missouri softball beat Northern Iowa, 3-1, but that is not how coach Ehren Earleywine saw things. Throughout the game, he grew frustrated with many aspects of the game, including the timing of Mizzou hitters.
“All day long for seven innings against Northern Iowa, we had zero timing,” Earleywine said. “We kept swinging early on her change up and late on her drop. Once again, we got caught dual-minded, we’re trying to hit both pitches and you get caught in between.”
Mackenzie Sykes was able to get her timing down for at least one at bat as she connected in the second inning for an RBI double to score Corrin Genovese. Genovese, who had mostly been batting second in the lineup, was bumped down to sixth to put Ashtin Stephens second.
“The six-hole is a really valuable spot, it’s the most underrated spot in the lineup,” Earleywine said. “Genovese seems to me like a good kid for that spot. Now today it didn’t work out, but it worked pretty well down in Texas and I don’t know, we’ll probably stay with it over the weekend.”
The Tigers’ other runs came in the third on a sacrifice fly by Nicole Hudson to score Jenna Marston and in the fourth on a bases load walk by Marston to score Genovese. Marston tied a Mizzou record with four walks in a game and is now one walk away from second place on the all-time walk list with 95.
“I should be swinging more, being more aggressive, but I’m getting on base, so I can’t be too disappointed,” Marston said.
As the catcher, Marston said pitcher Kristin Nottelmann did well in her five innings of work, but Earleywine disagreed.
“I didn’t think she threw well at all. She’s a rise ball pitcher and I didn’t see anybody swing under any pitches and that’s a bad sign,” Earleywine said. “She’s going to need to be better on Saturday, for sure.”
Earleywine’s biggest frustration might have been with the umpires, especially on a stolen base call in the fifth inning. The NCAA softball rule statea player cannot attempt to steal a base when the pitcher has both feet inside the pitcher’s circle. On this play, the first base umpire saw Kristin’s feet come out and he allowed the stolen base by Northern Iowa’s Whitney Plein.
“The home plate umpire told me that he saw it. She has both feet in the pitcher’s circle and he said, ‘Well, if you can get the first base umpire to talk to me about it…’ and obviously that didn’t work,” Earleywine said. “This was the worst officiated game we have had in a long time, all the way around.”
After all the problems Earleywine saw, he was able to find at least one bright spot to this win.
“It’s kind of a good thing though that we played bad, because now, maybe they’ll come into Friday, wanting to make up for that,” Earleywine said.
The Tigers take a 22-game home winning streak into the weekend against Texas Tech. Game 1 starts Friday at 6 p.m.
Information from MU Athletics was used in this report.