Mizzou did NOT mess around this weekend
MUtigers.com: Mizzou Softball Tallies Another Run-Rule Win, Claims NCAA Regional Title
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou pounds Nebraska for another regional title
KC Star: Missouri softball clobbers Nebraska again, punches super regional ticket
The Missourian: Missouri softball thrashes Nebraska, advances to Super Regional
PowerMizzou: Win over Nebraska caps perfect regional for Mizzou
Washington did so in 2014— Blake Toppmeyer (@btoppmeyer) May 21, 2016
Earleywine says it's entered his mind he might have coached his last game at Missouri today. More here: pic.twitter.com/6H499XiPOO— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) May 21, 2016
Nebraska coach Rhonda Revelle on Missouri: "They can compete with anyone in the country right now."— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) May 21, 2016
Earleywine: "That's the most impressive run of games that I've ever seen in postseason play by a team that I've coached."— Blake Toppmeyer (@btoppmeyer) May 21, 2016
Earleywine: "It's been amazing watching them perform under all the pressure and the naysayers."— Blake Toppmeyer (@btoppmeyer) May 21, 2016
MU's Kirsten Mack on facilities: "Coach E is still able to get recruits here. That’s a testament to him because our facilities aren’t good."— Dave Matter (@Dave_Matter) May 21, 2016
Winning is incredibly intoxicating. Mizzou Twitter was buoyant with support for Ehren Earleywine and his team after their absolutely ridiculous regional performance. The Tigers will likely travel to Ann Arbor next weekend to take on the nation's second-best team (assuming Michigan wins one of two against Notre Dame today -- the first game starts at 1 pm CT on the Big Ten Network). But with the way they played the last three days, they might absolutely be giving themselves a shot at the WCWS.
This glee, however, kind of took a misplaced turn to me. The amount of "Mack Rhoades should be run out of town if he fires Earleywine" talk was suddenly quite loud (and, in some cases, quite silly), and honestly, I have a problem with that. We know that Rhoades has been mulling Earleywine's future for a while now, but it's not like it's just some "I don't like the cut of his jib" thing. Rhoades has been investigating complaints of something ranging between poor representation of the university and abuse. He isn't taking that lightly, and my goodness, he shouldn't.
For all we know, Rhoades has completely and totally botched the investigation; we'll find out when more details come out (more subjective details, that is -- not one-sided complaints from perhaps justifiably angry players). But if the abuse complaints are both strong enough and verifiable, then there might truly be grounds for firing. I hope there aren't, and I hope Earleywine is retained, but the sudden upswing in "Rhoades is an idiot for considering this" sentiment was scary.
Earleywine has been an awesome coach for a while, and he may be pulling off his greatest coaching job yet over the last few weeks considering the (completely self-inflicted) adversity. But an athletic department investigating claims of abuse is mandatory and serious. And if we've now moved on to "Fire Rhoades for even considering this," then count me out.
Seriously, though: Congrats to Ehren Earleywine for rallying his team to play its best ball in years. You are a tremendous coach, and the players who like you, love you.. I hope you didn't do anything mean/angry enough to get yourself fired, and if you end up staying, I hope you can try to tweak your personality just enough to avoid a similar instance in the future. There is no shame in adapting a bit. You've done it on the diamond with incredible results.
Earleywine showed up to the ballpark thinking he might ask Lowary, Missouri’s ace, to pitch 14 innings Saturday. That’s how much faith he has in her right now.
As it turned out, Lowary needed only to pitch five innings. [...]
Lowary has a 0.93 ERA in her last eight appearances, a span of 45 innings. She’s 25-6 with a 3.10 ERA for the season.
Earleywine plans to lean on Lowary plenty during next week’s super regional.
"I’ve got a stall full of people that I think can give us some innings this coming weekend, if need be, but chances are it’ll be Paige," Earleywine said.
Pretty good representatives for a pretty good cause
The committee passed a rule requiring batters to wear helmets with a facemask — a decision in line with organizations like the American Softball Association — but NCAA membership rejected it, Van Kleeck said.
Defensive facemasks are an even tougher sell, especially for pitchers who didn’t grow up wearing them. They have never been commonplace in the sport, and there’s a stigma that players who wear them are scared of the ball.
"Our generation maybe just thinks it’s a weakness type thing," Lowary said. "In my head, I just thought it was more intimidating, I guess, if I didn’t wear one."
In football news...
I have absolutely no idea why the Eagles spent that much money on both Daniel and Sam Bradford, and then decided the best use of resources would be to trade up in the draft to take a massive reach on a QB. In a salary cap environment, Philadelphia just used a significant amount of its assets to build a team with three quarterbacks and the least possible amount of support for those quarterbacks.