Ashley Fleming's production will be missed. (Via MUtigers.com)
Mizzou Diamond Sports Links
Next Stop: Tucson
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Mizzou Network: Baseball Selection Show Reactions
SimmonsField.com: MU's NCAA Regional Destination: Tucson, AZ
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Post-Dispatch: Mizzou will face Arizona
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Time To Get To Work On 2013
The Trib: MU softball team forced to stew in its own juices
"I’ve been scratching my head all season long," Earleywine said. "We’ve worked so tirelessly with these girls on their mechanics and their mental approach. I think the most frustrating part from a coach’s perspective is that you know they’re capable of having a pretty good mechanical swing. Obviously, every hitter is going to have some things wrong. But if you just line them up in batting practice and watch them hit, they’re pretty sound across the board.
"But when they get into games, I don’t know what happens. I guess it’s the panic button, but they change. They either get jumpier or longer or they try to swing harder or they stride a different direction. That’s the hurtful part, because you know you’ve created this kid that has a very good swing, but they’re not allowing themselves to be successful because of the panic." […]
The problem was offense. Earleywine admitted that he was reduced to counting down the at-bats until Fleming’s turn at the plate, because it seemed preposterous that Missouri might string three hits together. Even when MU scored five runs in Game 2, it was the result of exuberant baserunning and botched throws. Missouri’s 12th-inning outburst began with dropped third strike and turned on a not-so-classic three-run fielder’s choice.
At times this season, Missouri's No. 3 hitter was the Tiger's only offense. She proved that when she hit a walkoff, ninth-inning home run in the Columbia regional against DePaul that gave the Tigers a 1-0 victory and sent them to the title game.
"It's unfortunate, but all day long you're going, 'When's Ashley up?'" Earleywine said after Sunday's games. "It's going to be tough to lose that kid, especially the way she's played these last two seasons. ... We'd like to keep her forever, but what are you going to do?" […]
Fleming was never the vocal presence of this young team, but to a player, everyone considered her a leader. She simply led by example. The lefty with the sweet swing from Silex, who thrived in pressure situations, showed young starters like Kayla Kingsley how to overcome early struggles to become a productive player. She also showed them what she believes are the truly important parts about being a Missouri Tiger.
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