The return of starter Chelsea Thomas will be key for Mizzou's chance of making its third straight College World Series. (Photo by Karen Mitchell)
By Darren Hellwege, KBIA Sports Director
It’s only natural that a team which has been to two straight College World Series and has one of the nation’s best pitchers apparently back to fully healthy would be confident. But the level of confidence may have best been demonstrated by a comment made by Kristin Nottleman following Saturday’s Black and Gold game at Devine Pavilion.
“We feel like having (Nottleman and Chelsea Thomas both pitching) will really benefit us when we go to the World Series, whoever’s got it is gonna go, and we’ll be supportive of the other,” said the Mizzou pitcher.
When, not if?
“We’re always taught to think positively, and you got goals and if you set them, you gotta believe them,” continued Nottleman. “At the very beginning of the fall we said, we’re going to get back and we want to win a national championship and if you’re not going to talk like it, you shouldn’t even put it in your goals.”
The Tigers looked like a team fully capable of a return to Oklahoma City as both Thomas and Nottleman threw well and the team hit, ran and fielded well in the annual Black and Gold scrimmage Saturday. While the team features an outstanding lineup of hitters and will continue their habit of aggressive base running, most eyes were on the circle where Thomas, one of the nation’s top pitchers before a stress fracture cut short her 2010 season, looked to be at peak form.
“I felt great today, actually, my arm’s feeling good. They got the radar on me and I’m back up to my speed,” said Thomas, who went 12-1 last year before the injury. Thomas faced 27 batters, striking out four and walking one while scattering nine hits in five innings of work. She gave up five runs, but only two were earned. Thomas pitched for the Gold team, meaning she faced what is expected to be the starting lineup for the Tigers. Afterward, coach Ehren Earleywine was impressed with how well his hitters did off Thomas.
“I was proud of our hitters. We got Chelsea on the gun at over 70 (mph) several times, up, down, and change, and we probably put 12 of 15 balls in play off of her, I was impressed.”
PHOTOS: Mizzou softball Black & Gold game
Read more of this post