Senior infielder Amanda Renth’s home run in Missouri’s first game of a doubleheader against Saint Louis on Wednesday night went almost 70 yards. Normally, you’d say 210 feet. But very little about the Tigers’ home opener was normal, considering it was played inside the football practice facility, the Dan Devine Pavilion, and the first game featured a no-hitter.
MU (10-6) swept the Billikens, winning the opener 10-0 and the second game 6-0. Junior Stacy Delaney tossed a no-hitter in game one, which lasted just 4 and one-half innings because Missouri led by 10 after the Billikens (3-6) had five offensive innings. The junior right-hander impressed coach Ehren Earleywine.
“Kids take funny-looking swings off her, and I think it’s because her movement is really rare,” Earleywine said. “It really is. Very seldom do you see pitchers who have two-plane movement. None of her pitches stay on the same plane, and it is so rare to see college softball pitchers do that.”
Although the weather prevented Missouri from beginning its home campaign at University Field, the Tigers didn’t at all mind playing indoors at the football practice facility.
“We practice in here all the time,” Earleywine said. “We know the speed of the infield. We know how the lights play on the ball.”
In fact, the Tigers might be too familiar with playing indoors.
“We’re pretty comfortable in here,” Earleywine said. “I just wish we were that comfortable outside already.”
Renth returned to the Tiger lineup after missing seven games with a broken nose. She was struck by a foul ball while standing in the on-deck circle during Missouri’s game against University of California, Davis in Las Vegas on Feb. 16. Renth had surgery Feb. 22 and wore a mask on the front of her helmet Wednesday.
The senior came into the doubleheader hitting just .150, but her 3-for-6 night helped restore confidence, she said. Usually a first baseman, Renth was MU’s designated hitter Wednesday, and Earleywine said Renth’s next step is to get back in the field.
Renth and the Missouri offense gave Delaney room for comfort, scoring six runs in the first inning. Five Tigers had two hits in the opener.
“I think we did a good job of swinging at what we needed to — being aggressive — but also being disciplined on the pitches that we didn’t need to (swing at),” Renth said.
Though MU’s offense scored 16 runs and Tiger pitching blanked the Billikens, Earleywine was most impressed with his squad’s defense.
“We finally played defense for 14 innings, and it wouldn’t have mattered who we played tonight — we would’ve been competitive because we made the plays,” he said.
Senior Jen Bruck and sophomore Jana Hainey shut down SLU in the second game, combining for nine strikeouts. Junior transfer Lindsey Ubrun hit a two-run homer in the first inning after the Tigers first three hitters (freshman Rhea Taylor, sophomore Julie Silver and Bruck) manufactured a run. Bruck also went deep in the fourth.
“I’ve coached teams that were power-ridden — that’s all they’ve had,” Earleywine said. “And I’ve also coached teams that all they could do was steal bases. There are obviously holes in both of those attacks. But when you have both, you can attack teams and pitchers from a lot of different angles, and I feel like we’re able to do that.”