Tiger hitters catching fire

Ever since coach Ehren Earleywine called out his team, the Tigers are now second nationally in runs per game.

Senior Nicole Hudson and sophomores Angela Randazzo and Kelsea Roth have a combined 27 home runs on the season. The three make up the heart of the batting order at the 3-4-5 spots. Maneater File Photo

The Missouri softball team did something Wednesday night it hadn’t done since March 16: It played an entire game.

Before then, the Tigers used their bats to put together a string of seven consecutive games shortened because of the NCAA’s mercy rule, which ends the game if a team leads by eight or more runs after five innings.

The streak started in Missouri’s series finale at Mississippi, just two games after coach Ehren Earleywine publicly ripped his team’s performance in a doubleheader against Evansville, saying he must have failed them as a hitting coach for them to perform so poorly at the plate.

During the streak, Missouri scored more than 11 runs per game. As of March 31, the last time the NCAA posted statistics, Arizona State leads the nation with 7.76 runs per game, while Missouri sits at second with 7.64.

During that stretch, Missouri hit 15 home runs, with 10 coming in the past three games overall. On March 31, Missouri sat at fourth nationally with 1.64 home runs per game, though it’s most likely it will move up the ranks with its seven-home run outburst in Wednesday’s doubleheader against Missouri State.

After the Evansville game, Earleywine said he had been thinking long and hard about his batting order, trying to find combinations with chemistry.

“I think about it a lot, way more than my wife would like me to,” Earleywine said.

It appears he’s found some combinations with enough chemistry to put Walter White to shame.

The order starts with freshman Emily Crane and senior Jenna Marston. Crane currently leads the team with 29 hits and 10 doubles, twice as many as any other team member.

As expected, the power numbers appear most prevalently in the 3-4-5 part of the order. Senior Nicole Hudson and sophomores Angela Randazzo and Kelsea Roth combine for 27 of Missouri’s 43 home runs this season.

As of March 31, Randazzo placed third nationally with a slugging percentage of 1.038. For reference, as of March 31, only three players had slugging percentages higher than 1. Hudson and Roth pull their weight as well with slugging percentages over .900.

All three have more than 20 RBIs, the only players on the team with that number, and Randazzo has driven in 36 runs on the season, 10 more than any other player.

Hudson’s team-leading 26 walks, no doubt proof of opposing pitching around her, appear to directly aid Randazzo’s RBI numbers.

Fans of offense will wish they made the trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., this weekend for Missouri’s three-game series with Alabama. The No. 4 Crimson Tide rank ninth in the nation in runs per game with 6.97. Something will need to break, though, as both teams rank in the top 20 in ERA.

Game one takes place at 8 p.m. Friday night on ESPNU.

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