His own words before the regional started...
Posted on: May 20, 2012 at 07:08:36 CT
In a radio interview earlier in the week, as he assessed the 3 opponents, he was open about fearing Illinois State the least. He noted, of course, that Illinois State was still a good team, but he came right out and said they didn't scare him. Not like the other 2 teams did. And he was candid about being conflicted about whether to start Thomas in game 1 or keep her in reserve and rested for the winner of UMass-Depaul on Saturday, indicating that in his own mind throwing Erwin against Illinois State was at least an option.
I think the question of who to start in the first game today is not a clear slam dunk either way. I think some people (not me) could make a reasonable argument to rest Thomas, keeping her in reserve to perhaps finish off the first game if its close, and be rested and ready for a deciding second game, if it comes to that. That's not a totally ridiculous approach.
I disagree, I think he needs to throw Thomas in the first game today and finish Illinois State off. Its just an opinion. But I think alot of Missouri fans (including me), and maybe even some players (hope I'm wrong about that), and maybe even Earlywine himself, consciously or not, relaxed a little after seeing the #4 seed eliminate both UMass and Depaul yesterday, sending home 2 really good pitchers.
Is Mizzou a much better team than Illinois State, and should they take care of business today? Yes and yes. But they are a dangerous team right now. They have momentum, all the confidence in the world, absolutely nothing to lose today, and a hot pitcher who just out dueled Plourde and Verdun. Who would have predicted that back on Friday. Therefore I think its important to throw Thomas in the first game, get on top of them early, shut them down. The longer they hang with Mizzou the more confidence they will get.