Campus Corner

Emails expose rift between Missouri, Missouri State softball coaches

Ehren Earleywine
Ehren Earleywine THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Don’t expect to see Missouri softball play Missouri State again anytime soon.

A rift between Tigers coach Ehren Earleywine and Bears coach Holly Hesse was exposed in an email exchange obtained by ESPN.

The first email is from Missouri director of softball operations Lisa Simmons, and the relevant part begins with a reply April 24 asking what date Hesse might prefer to schedule a 2016 game.

Hesse, whose team lost 6-0 to the Tigers in Springfield, Mo., a day earlier, replies three weeks later that she and her staff discussed it and don’t want to continue the series, citing a lack of respect on Earleywine’s part.

Hesse said Earleywine was overheard telling his team they should have run-ruled Missouri State and saying they “were no better than a ‘5A High School Team.’”

She also lobs a vague accusation about illegal recruiting practices and notes that Missouri players spit sunflower seeds in the dugout and on the turf despite a sign forbidding sunflower seeds.

“While we think it is an important series and one we would like to continue, the lack of mutual respect makes it impossible for us to do so,” an email signed Holly & Staff concludes.

Earleywine replies in an email dated May 20 that Hesse is scared to have her Missouri State team play Missouri.

“You’ve been ducking us for awhile [sic] now and you know it,” he wrote. “Pull your tail from between your legs and learn how to compete.”

He pointed out that the Bears baseball team managed to beat the Tigers and signs off by taking a swipe at the RPI ranking of Hesse’s program, finishing with, “I have to give you credit though, you’ve been able to keep your job despite being (horse crap) for so long.”

Hesse has been Missouri State’s coach for 27 years.

Missouri referred to the statement it provided ESPN when asked for comment.

“I am sincerely sorry for the unprofessional comments I made,” Earleywine said in a statement. “I understand that is not the right way to represent the University of Missouri, and serving as a role model and a positive example for our students is very important. I apologize to Coach Hesse, the Missouri State softball program and our fans for the way I reacted and know this was not the proper way to handle the situation.”

Missouri State also issued a response Friday night.

“I regret that an email exchange in which I was involved has created negative attention for our University and our program,” Hesse said in a statement. “As a mentor and leader of young women, I understand how my comments were interpreted as disrespectful, and I am a strong advocate of respecting one’s opponents and the sport of softball at all levels. I accept coach Earleywine’s apology for his part of the exchange, and I hope that we can move past this incident as professionals and colleagues.”

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @todpalmer.

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