In the days, hours, and minutes leading up to Saturday’s match-up between Mizzou Baseball and Mizzou Softball, I only found one non-player who predicted a win by the baseball team. Diahann Bieser told me right before the game, “We’re going to win, of course! Baseball!” She may have been a bit biased.
The game itself turned out to be a bit lopsided. At times it appeared lopsided in the baseball team’s favor, but more often the ladies of softball had the clear edge.
The baseball lineup’s disadvantage was revealed with the very first batter. OF Conner Brumfield, after gaping in surprise at the first whiffle-ball-like fast-pitched softball, attempted a classic softball tactic, a slap hit. Squaring the bat in bunt position, he stepped toward the oncoming ball . . . and walked right past as the ball seemed to detour around him on its way to the catcher’s glove.
OF Kameron Misner, though, provided a quick display of the men’s advantage in this match-up: pure power. He managed - possibly as much by luck as skill - to connect with a mighty swing that sent a loud rocket over the right field wall. The ball landed about 150 feet outside the stadium, in the parking lot. With one swing he disproved the oft heard concerns that some poor driver on Stadium Boulevard would some day encounter a hard hit softball through their windshield. I can’t imagine any ever hitting a softball harder or farther than Misner did .
Softball’s tremendously stubbly head coach was duly impressed, according to the mutigers.com write-up:
"It's just so evident by that home run, what a different level of power and explosiveness those guys have," said Earleywine.
In the bottom half of each inning, the baseball team fielded the softball hitters’ slap hits like the Bad News Bears. The softball appeared to baffle them with the difference in its speed of flight, odd bounces, and larger size. In each inning the ladies put several runners on base.
But as the bases filled up, the baseball players were able to make quick throws and get the forced outs they needed.
What few baseball hitters made it to the basepaths became their own worst enemies as they appeared overconfident in their ability to steal second, which is a closer trip than it is in in baseball, so why not? Well, why not is because these girls know how to throw out base runners, that’s why not.
In the bottom of the third, the baseball players’ fielding did them in. Rylee Pierce put a line drive just out of Trey Harris’ reach in right-center field, and Harris picked it up and threw a rocket toward third base. Unfortunately for him, third base turned out not to be as far away as Trey is used to, and the ball flew into the third base stands, allowing two runners to score.
With the Softball Tigers up 2-1, Baseball Coach Steve Bieser did an on-field interview before the next inning. Asked what his strategy would be for regaining the lead, Bieser said,
“Maybe we should just stop swinging since we can’t hit it anyway. Maybe they’ll walk us.”
His players ignored his advice, resulting in another home run blast over right field off the bat of an overjoyed Trey Harris.
As the next batter walked to the plate, the entire outfield and two of the softball infielders ran toward the right field wall and leaped to the top, putting on a creative and hilarious defensive shift.
The defensive shift only lasted though one pitch (which the batter whiffed on), and they returned to their positions, having decisively won the battle for the day’s best performance by a comedic ensemble. (Second best performance goes to the comedy troupe in the baseball dugout, where they did a respectable job of imitating a stereotypical softball-esque chants-and-dance of the sort Ehren Earleywine eschews.
The same imbalance of disadvantages proved to be the deciding factor in the bottom of the 4th inning. The baseball defenders once again allowed the softball hitters to populate the bases through a combination of softball skill at their own game and baseball’s ineptitude with the unfamiliar ball. Finally, Rylee Pierce solidified her role as the MVP by showing up the hard-hitting guys, blasting a grand slam to make the final score 7-2.
The contest lasted only four innings, but it was a romp of fun through and through.
Maybe next year Bieser’s gang will will host Earleywine’s in a baseball game at Taylor Field.