Hoping that this year’s bid for a trip to Oklahoma City allows for the Missouri Tigers to take care of some unfinished business.
Of all the poignant things that have been uttered on our airwaves, many of them coming from Missouri’s softball head coach Ehren Earleywine, one statement stands above the rest.
“If we don’t win a national championship while Chelsea Thomas is here, I would consider it a personal failure”
I remind him of this quote on a frequent basis, and he has not backed down from it, not one iota. So when he said the quote below about what Thomas’ availbility is for the rest of the season, it got me a little more than hopeful.
Missouri is only as good as their fifth-year senior from Pleasantville, Iowa, but anyone who has watched the program with even a casual eye knows that consistency has been a problem for the Tigers. When Chelsea is on her game, she looks like every bit the pitcher that turned in the season that their head coach believes should have won her National Player of the Year in 2011. When she’s not in the circle, Mizzou is anything but the same team.
It’s only fitting that over the last couple of weeks she has provided a call back to that vintage.
It’s just as appropriate that the team Missouri faces this week, is the team they beat in 2011 to get to Oklahoma City, the Washington Huskies.
The Tigers have found out that her services are not the only ones they need in Oklahoma City, and the team is peaking at the right time. Right now the Tigers are hitting .310 as a team, the best they have since 2009, and right now sits at the fourth best average in program history. They have their most versatile hitter since the departure of Rhea Taylor in freshman Emily Crane, and mix of players with WCWS experience and young players who freshly remember the disappointment of last year’s Super Regional ouster against LSU.
The concern for Missouri is their history once they get to Bricktown is not favorable. Their last trip to OKC saw just their second game won in six previous trips to the WCWS. The onus is on Missouri to prove they are not to be walked upon.
There’s also the worry that a trip to the Women’s College World Series is no guarantee, as pundits are calling this Washington offense better than the one the Tigers just defeated in Hofstra and also better than the one they couldn’t conquer last season in LSU.
The one thing that is a sure thing, that as long as #18 is in the circle, it’s hard to bet against the Tigers. It’s been a privilege to watch her career, and how much she has “turned this program around”, as sophomore Corrin Genovese said this week on The Big Show.
And if Thomas is on her game, expect a repeat of this.