Posted: Feb 17, 2013 7:55 PM by Eric Blumberg
Updated: Feb 18, 2013 12:47 AM
COLUMBIA- Ask Missouri softball players about their biggest influence, and numerous names of coaches from their present and past will come to mind. But there is one special coach who made and continues to make an impact on a pair of Tigers.
If you're looking for offense on the Missouri softball team this season, keep your eyes on Nicole Hudson.
"Maybe it's a little bit of pressure, but I kind of like that. I feel like it is my job to drive in runs and to fuel the offense. I'm ready for that challenge," Hudson said. "I feel better than I ever have in my career. I'm more confident than I've ever been and I'm really expecting to have my best season, yet."
Sophomore pitcher Bailey Erwin is the Tigers number two pitcher. She knows opponents could know what to expect.
"They already know what I'm going to be doing," Erwin said. "I gotta mix it up more than I did. So, for me it's mix it up and try and surprise people."
Erwin and Hudson are playing for more than just the Tigers this season, but also their Summer League softball Coach, Dave Simmons.
"Last June during the Women's College World Series he passed away suddenly. It was just kind of a shock," Hudson said.
"I was getting ready to go over to the hospital and was told he had passed away," Erwin said.
To remember Simmons this season, his former players will wear reminders.
"She got me some stickers and a wristband that says P4D... Play for Dave. It's just kind of something to keep him in the back of our minds all season," Hudson said.
"Yes, and if I can't wear it because I'm a pitcher it will be in my pocket," Erwin said.
Without Simmons, both of the Tigers noticed something missing as this season approached.
"I would always get a Facebook message or an email at the beginning of every season or throughout the season and it was always I believe in you, you're the best in the country, there's nobody out there that can do better than you," Hudson said.
"He had a certain corner that he would sit in and I look at that corner every time. I know he's not an angel in the outfield, but he's more of an angel in the dugout," Erwin said.
Hudson only played on Simmon's Tulsa Eagles Summer League team for one season.
Erwin grew up in the Tulsa area and refers to Simmons as the king of softball in Oklahoma.