By Karl Roskamp
The Missouri Tigers softball team shakes hands with the Arkansas softball team on April 12, 2013 at University Field in Columbia Mo.
Kelsea Roth and Mackenzie Sykes combined for six hits and six runs batted in to lift No. 8 Missouri to a 9-0 run rule victory over Arkansas on Friday night at University Field.
The Tigers’ (24-4, 9-3 Southeastern Conference) victory came after two losses at Alabama last weekend. Junior Mackenzie Sykes said losing the series in Tuscaloosa was a motivating factor going into Friday’s game.
“As a team, we didn’t feel like we played that bad (against Alabama) but we wanted to come out here today and make sure we didn’t have a let down.”
Sykes had three hits in three at bats in the game, including a solo home run in the bottom of the third. Sophomore Kelsea Roth had three hits too and four RBIs including a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to secure a run-rule victory.
“She drilled that ball, it was a line drive home run,” Sykes said of Roth’s home run. “You can’t hit it any better than that.”
“I was just trying to save our pitching and hopefully get through the five innings so we can save Chelsea as much as we can,” Roth said.
The home run ended the game in the fifth inning and locked up career victory number 102 for Chelsea Thomas, the most in program history.
“That’s pretty special to be part of history for Mizzou softball,” Thomas said. “I’m very grateful to be here and have a chance to do that.”
Thomas pitched four shutout innings, struck out five batters, allowed two hits and walked two hitters. Thomas improved to a 15-3 record on the season. Senior Nicole Hudson finished the game by pitching the bottom of the fifth. She did not allow any runs or hits, and walked one batter. Even though she pitched one inning, coach Ehren Earleywine saw the value in her performance.
“That was big. Nicole coming probably saved (Thomas) 10 or 12 or 15 pitches,” Earleywine said.
Earleywine was not without apprehension coming into the game after how the Tigers played against Alabama.
“My worry was that she was going to come out guns a blazing and throwing the backside out of it,” he said. “She pitched under control for the most part and tried to locate and so we’re in a good position for tomorrow.”
Missouri will face Arkansas on Saturday at 2 p.m. at University Field.