Missouri softball sweeps No. 16 Texas A&M with game three victory

The No. 19 Tigers completed their first SEC sweep since April, 2015.
Redshirt senior shortstop Sami Fagan hits a ball into left field during the second game against Wichita State on April 13. Fagan ended the game hitting three for her four times at bat and scoring three times.

Cheyenne Baxter found out she was the starting pitcher against No. 16 Texas A&M about 30 minutes before game time.

The reason?

Coach Ehren Earleywine had to water his yard at home, and he was having sprinkler trouble.

“I got here late because I had water all over me,” he said. “There was mud and water hitting me in the back of the leg, and my dog was running all over the place.”

Meanwhile on University Field, the Tigers were anxiously awaiting the lineup. Most assumed sophomore Paige Lowary would be starting for Mizzou, but Earleywine said he went with his gut and put Baxter in the lineup. The Aggies hadn’t seen her yet, and he wanted to see what she could do.

“I was a little surprised when I found out I was starting,” Baxter said. “At first I thought it was a joke, but then it wasn’t, so I warmed up. I feel like especially this year I’m not as nervous on the mound, I’m more confident in myself and the pitches I have.”

The junior pitcher did well. Through four innings, Baxter only had allowed three hits, one run and threw 35 strikes before handing over the ball to Lowary for relief.

The rest of the team followed suit, earning their third and final victory of the series 7–1, sweeping the series.

“To finally grab hold of a sweep is great,” senior Emily Crane said. “I think right now our energy level and the way we’re playing is really good, so if we can keep this momentum we have a really great shot (during post-season).”

Offense appeared in the bottom of the third when junior Chloe Rathburn stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. The designated player hit a sacrifice fly, bringing in Crane and putting the Tigers on the scoreboard.

Senior Sami Fagan stole home while junior Amanda Sanchez was caught in a rundown between first and second base giving the Tigers a 2–0 lead heading into the fourth inning.

After a solo home run by Texas A&M’s Tori Vidales, Missouri freshman Kolby Romaine followed up with a home run of her own in the bottom of the fourth inning to make the score 3–1.

With the bases loaded yet again and in the same inning, Rathburn hit a ground ball to the second baseman, who dropped the ball and overthrew it to first base. Rathburn reached second base on the error. Crane and Sanchez both scored, and the Tigers added three more runs to the scoreboard during the frame.

Romaine launched another home run in the bottom of the fifth inning, this time a two-run shot over center field.

“Bat on ball I guess,” Romaine said. “I went into my fourth at bat saying ‘you’re not going to strike me out, I’m going to get something,’ and I felt great. It boosted my confidence quite a bit.”

The Chino Hills, California native has had six hits in her collegiate career, and after Monday, four of them have been home runs.

Romaine feels as though she locked up her starting spot during Monday night’s game, and her teammates and coaches agree. Crane said she told her underclassman teammate to use this game as a way to seal the deal, and she did just that.

“I just try to take advantage of my opportunities,” Romaine said. “I didn’t as much in the beginning, and (Earleywine) kept showing interest, and eventually we worked it out and I got in.”

With this win, Missouri is now 9–9 in SEC play. They travel to Mississippi State next weekend after a midweek doubleheader against Southeast Missouri State on Wednesday.

“I couldn’t be in a better place with my girls right now, I’m so happy for them,” Earleywine said. “They’re having so much fun, and with the way they’re competing, I would play anybody right now.”

Edited by Peter Baugh | pbaugh@themaneater.com

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