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May 19, 2012
Ashley Fleming knew what was coming.
"I figured she'd probably throw me a changeup."
That's what Fleming said when asked why she swung at Kirsten Verdun's first pitch of the 9th inning. She figured right. Fleming ripped a ball over the right field fence to score the only run of the game and sent the Missouri Tigers (45-12) walking off in victory against the DePaul Blue Demons (36-21) on Saturday by a score of 1-0.
Despite the home run by Fleming, the star of the game was still pitcher Chelsea Thomas (25-7), who threw 9 innings of shutout softball and has thrown 15 scoreless innings in two NCAA Tournament wins this weekend. Thomas looked especially dominant in the 4th inning when she struck out the three Blue Demon batters she faced on just 10 pitches.
The win puts Mizzou in a much more comfortable position than the one it faced last season when they lost on Saturday afternoon and were forced to win three straight games over to escape their regional.
Head coach Ehren EarleywineK commented that the victory "allows (them) to go home and go sleep while these other teams are fighting out, running their pitching down. It's a good thing, it's a real good thing."
The Tigers will play tomorrow at 2 PM against UMass, DePaul, or Illinois State and have two chances to win one game to advance to the Super Regionals. Mizzou defeated Illinois State 6-0 on Friday night.
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