Tag Archives: Ashley Fleming

Surprising win and surprising loss for Mizzou baseball and softball

Mizzou softball and baseball teams in unexpected post season spots

Missouri’s Jeff Emens (20) celebrates along with teammates after defeating Oklahoma 8-7 in the Big 12 conference championship game in Oklahoma City, Sunday, May 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Is it possible that Missouri sent its teams to the wrong cities?

In Columbia, the team that should have won — the nationally-ranked and favored Missouri softball team — lost two of three games to unranked LSU.

In Oklahoma City, the Missouri baseball team that struggled to a 10-14 finish in Big 12 conference play, won the conference championship game against Oklahoma.

Missouri players Carlie Rose (5) Alyssa Cousins (17) Rachel Hay (00) Princess Krebs (42) and Ashley Fleming (30) watch as the LSU Tigers celebrate their Super Regional win Sunday, May 27, 2012 in Columbia, Mo. LSU won two of three games in the series.

It’s all about timing. The Missouri women faced an LSU team on the rise and the Missouri men picked a good time to rise from the ranks of mediocre teams and show their potential. The scenario that seemed unlikely a week ago has the baseball team heading into the NCAA national tournament and the women’s season ending without a spot in the women’s World Series.

Big 12 championship baseball final

With Missouri just one strike away from winning its first Big 12 championship, there was no way coach Tim Jamieson could feel comfortable.

He had been this close before – painfully close – and the title slipped away both times. And this was his last chance, with the Tigers getting ready to start chasing Southeastern Conference crowns next season.

Even when it was over and Missouri had beaten Oklahoma 8-7 on Sunday, getting the final out when a runner was hit by a batted ball and then tagging out another at the plate just in case, he wasn’t sure if it was finally time to celebrate.

“I saw the out at the plate and then I looked up and I saw both umpires (holding up their fists), so at that point, I was a little bit worried about, ‘Did we do something?’ Because that’s how it goes here,” Jamieson said.

The Tigers had been within one strike of winning the Big 12 tournament in 2004 and last season, and Jamieson recalls looking over his shoulder both times to see officials with championship hats and T-shirts waiting to be passed out.

This time, he paced in the dugout when pinch-hitter Chase Simpson got two strikes on him and grabbed a bottle of water and sat down after the next two pitches were balls. He checked twice to see if there was anyone holding championship gear, and didn’t see anyone.

After 24 years of trying – six as an assistant coach and 18 as the head coach – he finally got to see his players celebrate with black-and-white caps and bright gold T-shirts stamped “Big 12 Champions.”

“We talked about it a lot over the summer, all the guys that went through it last year, just knowing that the seniors had one more chance and Coach J had one more chance to come down here and be able to get a ring and be able to come win a conference championship,” said catcher Ben Turner, who had two singles and two RBIs.

Sixth-seeded Mizzou dogpiled on the infield and dumped a cooler of water on Jamieson to celebrate its first baseball title since winning the Big Eight under Gene McArtor in 1980.

It’s also the third conference title for Missouri in its final Big 12 season — along with the men’s basketball and wrestling titles. The Tigers had previously won only four postseason conference titles since the Big 12 was formed in 1996.

“We haven’t had a lot of those at Missouri and we haven’t had any in baseball, so it meant a lot,” Jamieson said. “We’ve been so close — right there — and we finally got over the hump. It’s special in so many different ways because we struggled this year, we had a lot of ups and downs. But you knew it was there, and it came together at the right time.”

Dillon Everett also drove in two runs and Blake Brown scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning for Missouri (32-27). Dusty Rose got the win for the Tigers and Blake Holovach got the final two outs for his first save.

“I love coming here. I always have, and I’ll miss it. … I’ve got a lot of big-time memories, not just on the field,” Jamieson said. “It’s special to win the last one.”

Eric Garcia was named Most Outstanding Player for the tournament, hitting .500 with three RBI, five runs and four walks. Also named for All-Tournament team honors were Dane Opel, Blake Brown and Jeff Emens.

Women’s Super Regional final

After Friday night’s loss Missouri knew it had to play 14 innings of ball on Sunday in order to advance. They hadn’t anticipated playing 12 of those in one game.

It took nearly four hours for Missouri to win the first game on Sunday. Chelsea Thomas started the game, pitching for 11 innings in the 5-1 victory.

“She threw good. I’m proud of her. In all honesty she didn’t throw her best again, but as I told you all last night, even if she just threw average, she would give LSU all they wanted, and she did just that,” said coach Ehren Earleywine.

Thomas struck out eight, walked four and allowed an unearned run. Bailey Erwin came in to pitch in what would be the last inning.

Missouri and LSU put up runs in the third inning then, as predicted, the pitchers shut down both sides.

Nicole Hudson, Ashley Fleming, Jenna Marston and Kayla Kingsley scored on a series of hits and LSU errors in the 12th inning. Erwin faced three LSU batters and shut them down.

In the final game of the series Missouri’s offense petered out.Missouri got on the board first with a run in the third inning but LSU quickly answered with three runs. That was all the offense either team could muster.

“Obviously we didn’t hit the way we wanted to all season pretty much,” said Ashley Fleming, the team’s leading hitter.

“I mean we’ve had games where we’ve hit good but just consistently not what we are capable of. There’d be different times where somebody would be hitting better than usual, and then other times it would be somebody else, but we never really had a time where everything was clicking perfectly through line- up.”

Missouri finishes the season at 47-14, 17-7 in the Big 12. Fleming, a senior, leaves with a team-leading batting average of .365. Senior pitcher Kristin Nottelmann ends with a 12-5 record and 2.41 ERA.

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Tigers tame Demons with Fleming walk-off home run in extras

By Barbara Maningat

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Mizzou and DePaul faced off in eight innings of scoreless play in Game 3 of the 2012 NCAA softball Columbia Regional – until Ashley Fleming finally broke the silence with the game-ending home run in the bottom of the ninth. Fleming went 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI.

Change up pitching by Demons Kristen Verdun kept the Tigers adjusting, but Fleming was prepared.

“The hit I got earlier in the game was on a hard pitch so I figured she’d probably come with the change up, but I didn’t know when,” Fleming said. “It was just the perfect spot to hit. It felt good obviously.”

The Tigers had seven hits on Verdun off of five batters. Fleming, Jenna Marston and Kayla Kingsley each picked up two hits and Nicole Hudson contributed one hit on the game.

But coach Ehren Earleywine said the Tiger offense should have had a higher hit count.

“Last night we went from one of the best offensive performances that we’ve had this season and then today, not the worst, but definitely in that category we did not make adjustments soon enough,” Earleywine said.

From the mound, Missouri’s Chelsea Thomas kept the Tigers in contention with strategic pitching of her own.

“We were mixing pitches well and the change up was working well today and I kept my pitch count low,” Thomas said.

Thomas issued 100 pitches in nine scoreless innings, allowing five hits.

The Tigers move on to Game 6 on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Missouri beats Illinois State, one step closer to College World Series

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A juggled lineup lead to a better offensive game for Missouri Friday night in the regional softball tournament game against Illinois State. Chelsea Thomas pitched five scoreless innings to help Missouri beat the Redbirds 6-0.

Ashley Fleming and Kayla Kingsley picked up two hits each and Kelsea Roth picked up her seventh home run as the Tigers recorded nine hits, the most since their April 28 game against Iowa State.

DePaul beat Massachusetts 3-0 in the opening game. Missouri faces DePaul at 3 p.m. Saturday, followed by Massachusetts against Illinois State at 5:30 p.m. The loser of the Missouri-DePaul game facing the winner of the ISU-UMass game at 8 p.m.

Mizzou softball pulls out a win in the 10th inning, Thomas sets record

Missouri finishes second in the Big 12, earns No. 9 rank for regional tournament

Jenna Marston is congratulated by the Missouri softball team after getting the game-winning hit on Sunday, May 13, 2012.

Missouri will host its fourth consecutive NCAA Regional softball tournament beginning May 17. The Tigers will face the Illinois State Redbirds. DePaul and Massachusetts round out the regional bracket.

Sunday’s game

Jenna Marston saved the day the for Tigers and the game for Chelsea Thomas as her walk-off hit drove in Mackenzie Sykes for the game-winning run. It was Missouri’s only run of the game, coming with two outs in the 10th inning.

With the win Missouri locked second place in the Big 12 with a 17-7 record.

It was a big day for Thomas, who notched 13 strikeouts to set a new school record with 898. She passes Teresa Wilson, who set the previous record in 1983.

Missouri won all three games against Oklahoma State:

• Thomas threw a no hitter in Friday’s 4-0 win.
• Baily Erwin got the win and Thomas the save in Saturday’s 5-3. Ashley Fleming hit her 15th home run of the season, a new personal best.

Team awards

The team’s annual banquet was held Saturday night. Here are the honors that were handed out:

• Defensive Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year:  Corrin Genovese
• Hardest Worker: Mackenzie Sykes
• Best Pitcher: Chelsea Thomas
• Best Hitter and Most Valuable Player: Ashley Fleming

Too much drama for Missouri softball in Murray State doubleheader

Story by Alex Silverman

Photos by Barbara Maningat

To say the No. 9 Missouri softball team had a flair for the dramatic in its doubleheader against Murray State on Wednesday would be an understatement.  Both games were decided in the final inning and with the same protagonist, outfielder Ashley Fleming, at the plate.

Unfortunately for Fleming and the Tigers, only one of the two games had the storybook ending they needed.  Missouri split the series with Murray State, winning the first game 5-4 and losing the second 3-2.  Murray State’s victory in the second game was its first in program history against a ranked team.  For coach Ehren Earleywine, the results of both games, particularly considering the “mid-tier” opponent, were immensely disappointing.

“It’s an embarrassing day in MU softball history and I hope that we don’t play like this anymore,” Earleywine said.

Through the first five innings of game one, it seemed the Tigers would control the day.  They entered the sixth inning with a 4-0 lead.  Things went haywire, however, when Fleming trotted out to the mound for her first pitching appearance of the season and just the sixth of her college career.

Earleywine said he chose to have Fleming pitch because starter Bailey Erwin had lost her velocity and the team’s ace, Chelsea Thomas, was sidelined with a “tweaked groin.”

Just five Murray State batters and one out after Fleming stepped into the circle, the bases were loaded.

Erwin, the pitcher she had just replaced, reentered the game to try to clean up Fleming’s mess.  Instead, Erwin threw the fourth ball of what was previously Fleming’s 3-0 count, bringing in one run, and then allowed a bases-clearing double, bringing in another three and tying the game, 4-4.

With three earned runs and a blown lead on her shoulders, Fleming stepped up to the plate in the top of the seventh and, with the count at 2-1, sent Shelby Kosmecki’s pitch soaring over the wall in right centerfield.  Fleming’s home run proved to be the game-winner, but wasn’t vindication in Fleming’s eyes.

“For me to be in the position to hit a home run that ends up beating them by one run, that’s obviously not what we want to do,” Fleming said.  “We should definitely be scoring more runs and be beating a team like that by more.”

Things would only get worse for both Fleming and her team in game two.  The Tigers’ offense sputtered, producing only two hits through the game’s first six innings.  The Racers, on the other hand, pummeled starting pitcher Kristin Nottelmann in a three-run, four-hit third inning.  Missouri entered the bottom of the seventh inning down 3-0, needing more late game heroics.

For a moment, it seemed as though Missouri might be able to pull off another victory in dramatic fashion.  With two singles and a walk, the Tigers quickly loaded the bases and catcher Rachel Hay hit an RBI double to bring in two runs.

Two outs later, with Missouri trailing 3-2 and the bases loaded once again, Fleming came to the plate with the chance to write a storybook ending for the second consecutive game.  Instead, Fleming popped up Chelsey Sullivan’s 3-1 pitch, sealing the Tiger’s fate.

“I obviously was in a great count and it was a good pitch and I just let it get too deep,” Fleming said.  “I should’ve gotten out in front a little bit more, but it happens.”

With a sour taste in their mouths, the Tigers travel to face No. 13 Oregon this weekend in a three-game series.

“I hate the West Coast so it’s not a good time at all for me to go to Oregon,” Earleywine said.  “If we could beat them two out of three games and play well, that would make me feel a lot better, because today was so depressing on so many different levels.”

Information from Missouri Athletics and Murray State Athletics was used in this report.

Erwin earns Game 3 win over Cyclones in first conference start

By Barbara Maningat

Despite a late surge of Cyclone bats, the Tigers managed to keep the lead in a tight Game 3 win to complete the sweep. Missouri consistently dominated Iowa State in the three-game series at Ames, Iowa, taking the Tigers to a 14-7 Big 12 record, 37-10 overall.

In similar fashion to Games 1 and 2, the Tigers wasted no time to run up the scoreboard as they secured a three-run lead at the top of the first inning. After Mackenzie Sykes drew a walk and stole second, Ashley Fleming later singled to Cyclone shortstop Lexi Slater and allowed Sykes to reach third base. Kelsea Roth then capitalized with the runners on base as she doubled to centerfield, scoring Sykes and Fleming. In the next play, Roth got into scoring position when Nicole Hudson singled through the right side. Roth would then run in for the 3-0 Tiger lead on a sacrifice hit by Corrin Genovese.

The hits picked up again in the sixth inning – but this time both teams scored. The Tigers started with a triple by Genovese at the top of the inning, followed by a walk by pinch hitter Rachel Hay. Princess Krebs pinch ran for Hay and stole second to put two runners eager to go home. Kayla Kingsley then singled and advanced to second on the throw, allowing Genovese to score. Krebs and Kinglsey ran home for the 6-0 lead with Sykes’ double to center field. But the Cyclones quickly threatened the Tiger lead. A Cyclone grand slam by Tori Torrescano boosted the momentum for Iowa State at the bottom of the inning, narrowing the gap 6-4.

Missouri was unable to add to the two-run lead at the top of the final inning, so it was up to the Cyclones to topple the Tigers. Pinch hitter Anna Cole singled through the left side and advanced to second on a single by Slater. This was enough to score Cole in the next play, but the Cyclones would end the game leaving three runners stranded and still one run short of extra innings.

Bailey Erwin took the win in her first conference start, pitching four innings allowing only four hits and striking out two.

The Tigers take on Murray State in a doubleheader on Wednesday, beginning at 3 p.m.

No. 10 Tigers run circles around Cyclones in 9-0 win

By Barbara Maningat

The Tigers pounced on the Cyclones for an early lead in the series opener, and four home runs pushed Missouri to a 9-0 win in Game 1 of the three-game series in Ames, Iowa.

Missouri put three on the board with one swing of the bat at the top of the first inning. Three back-to-back walks loaded the bases for Nicole Hudson who singled and drove in two runs. The Tigers drew two more walks by the end of the inning, which gave Mizzou a three-run lead before Iowa State’s first at-bat.

Back-to-back-to-back home runs in the second inning extended the lead, 7-0. This was the first time Missouri recorded such a string of homers since 2007. Jenna Marston drew the fifth walk of the game just before Ashley Fleming drove her in on the first Tiger homer. Kelsea Roth and Hudson each followed up with home runs of their own.

The Tigers ended the game in the fifth inning with a two-run home run by Rachel Hay.

Hudson led the Tiger offense as she went 2-for-2 with one run and three RBIs. Fleming, Marston and Hay went a combined 3-for-5 with five runs scored and four RBIs.

And Chelsea Thomas kept the Cyclones calm. She struck out 11 of her 12 recorded outs, allowing one walk and two hits in four innings. Bailey Erwin closed the game.

The Tigers now sit at 35-10 overall, 12-7 in Big 12 play. Game 2 will begin at 2 p.m., Saturday.

Information used from Mizzou Athletics

Mizzou softball evens score with Oklahoma

By: Kelsie Heneghan

After pitching 10 innings Friday, Missouri pitcher Chelsea Thomas and Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts were back on the mound Saturday in extra innings, dueling it out again. In the end, it was Thomas’ Tigers who came out on top, beating the Sooners 4-2 in Game 2 of a pivotal series.

Thomas pitched the first three innings, but after giving up two runs, she was relieved by Bailey Erwin in the fourth inning.

The Sooners’ 2-0 lead continued into the sixth until Ashley Fleming hit her second game-tying home run of the series, scoring Jenna Marston who had reached on a walk. With a tie score, Oklahoma brought in Ricketts to end the top half of the sixth inning. Then the Tigers followed suit by bringing back Thomas in the bottom half.

The two aces kept their opponents hitless in the seventh inning, but the eighth proved to be what the Tigers needed to win. Two quick walks by Mackenzie Sykes and Martson and a ground out by Fleming, would put runners at second and third with just one out. Kelsea Roth singled to bring in Sykes and move Marston to third. The Tigers would bring the score to 4-2 when Nicole Hudson hit a sacrifice fly to score Marston.

Thomas closed out the eighth with a 1-2-3 inning in her 18th win of the season.

The series will conclude Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN.

Mizzou softball loses opener at Oklahoma

By Kelsie Heneghan

No. 10 Missouri softball traveled to Norman, Okla., to play the No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners. Not only was this game key to NCAA rankings, but also was the start of a crucial series between the Tigers and Sooners, who are fourth and first respectively in the Big 12 conference.

The game was quiet for four and a half innings, with just a total of four hits and one walk – quiet until the Sooners came to bat in the bottom of the fifth. A walk, single, and wild pitch later, the Sooners had runners on second and third with one out. A fielder’s choice got a runner out at home, but Oklahoma was able to get a run on the board with a single on the next play.

The Tigers would not let the Sooners keep the lead for long. Ashley Fleming hit a solo home run in the top of the sixth to tie the game at one. The home run was Fleming’s 11th of the season.

With the score tied, the game would go into extra innings and would remain scoreless until the 10th inning. Mizzou pitcher Chelsea Thomas as able to get two quick outs, but decided to intentionally walk Keilani Ricketts, the Sooners’ cleanup hitter and ace pitcher.

Erica Sampson then singled to put runners at first and second. Still down to their final out, the Sooners brought Georgia Casey to bat. Casey singled up the middle, scoring Ricketts to give Oklahoma the series-opener win.

Thomas pitched 9.2 solid innings allowing two runs on eight hits and six walks, while striking out 15. Thomas is now 17-6 on the season.

The Tigers hope to even the score Saturday with a 2 p.m. start against their conference foe.

Missouri softball run-rules Western Illinois before big weekend series

Story by Barbara Maningat

Photos by Kelsie Heneghan

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For Missouri softball, the run-rule win over Western Illinois was a step in the right direction as they turn heads to the weekend series against Big 12 rival Oklahoma – but Tigers are not satisfied with the way they’ve been playing.

Despite the shutout victory, the Tigers recorded eight runs on only five hits in the game.

“I think that we’re not exactly where we want to be. But we’re getting closer and we’re working through it. If I know anything about this team, is we’re just going to battle through it until we find it,” Nicole Hudson said.

Hitting has been a major concern for the Tiger offense in recent games and the frustration continued for coach Ehren Earleywine with the low hit count against WIU.

“I wasn’t very pleased today with our hitting as well,” Earleywine said. “I mean for the first four, five innings we were getting no hit by Western Illinois. So it wasn’t great.”

The Tigers drew five walks in the first two innings, leaving five runners on base and brought in four unearned runs in the third inning. In the bottom of the third, Jenna Marston drew a walk, and then advanced when Ashley Fleming was hit by a pitch. Mackenzie Sykes later reached on a fielder’s choice by WIU’s shortstop KC Dunne and a throwing error on the play loaded the bases. Kelsea Roth then hit a sacrifice fly to right field that allowed Marston to score for the first run of the game. In the next play, Sykes stole second, allowing Fleming to steal home on the throw to second to make it a 2-0 Tiger lead. Angela Randazzo then walked to put runners on first and second. Rachel Hay reached third base on a fielding error by right fielder Monica Rondon that brought in two more Tiger runs.

Earleywine’s concern – Missouri didn’t record a hit until the fifth inning with a double to right field by Nicole Hudson and a one-run single by pinch hitter Kayla Kingsley. He said Missouri is close to finding key players who can act as game changers for the team.

“Just like this game, it was really quiet, and then all of a sudden, ‘Bang!’ Nicole Hudson hits a three-run home run and all of a sudden it looks like you had a great offensive day because of one swing,” Earleywine said.

To put base runners on for Hudson in the sixth inning, Corrin Genovese began with an infield single. Pinch hitter Lindsay Muller then reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second with a solid single by Fleming to center field. Hudson went 2-for-3 with two runs and three RBIs.

“Last Saturday I felt like I had made a couple adjustments and started to get a feel for it and a little more comfortable,” Hudson said. “And I feel like I’m right where I want to be now and I’m ready to hit off (Oklahoma ace Keilani Ricketts).”

Oklahoma seemed to overshadow the midweek WIU game as the Tigers admitted much of their attention has been focused on the upcoming conference matchup. Such excitement is amplified by the longstanding rivalry between the Tigers and Sooners.

“They’re just good. There’s no other reason. And it’s out of respect, of course, but we feel like our two programs are the two best programs in the conference,” Earleywine said. “We haven’t shown that consistently this year, but you know it’s just a bragging thing toward Oklahoma. That’s who we’re trying to compete with.”

Missouri sits at No. 3 in Big 12 standings with an 11-5 conference record; Oklahoma tops the chart at No. 1 with an 11-4 record.

“Regardless of where they are in the standings and where we are, that’s our rivalry in the Big 12, and we are absolutely going to bring it. That’s what it’s all about. It’s going to be a great weekend,” Hudson said.

The three-game series begins Friday at 7 p.m. in Norman, Okla.