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March 8, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
As of noon yesterday, the world’s population was 7,026,581,981. That might seem like a big number. It is. If everyone on Earth were stacked up head to toe, the column would stand 7.3 million miles tall — enough for 15 round trips to the Moon.
Even so, when pieces of old satellites fall from space, scientists aren’t too concerned. The chance that the junk hits somebody is slim.
Thousands of young women play NCAA softball. About 40 million others are in amateur leagues, which makes softball the most popular sport to play in the country. That’s probably not enough for a trip to the moon, but if those people held hands, they would easily wrap around our planet. If, instead of facing space junk, each of those people were to face MU pitcher Chelsea Thomas, the odds of a hit would be equally low. She’s that good.
Last season, Thomas was statistically good enough to ensure a Tiger win even if her team scored only once. Thomas gave up 0.95 earned runs per game. And she’s not just good on paper. Last year she tied the MU record for most wins in one season, 32.
Last week she pitched a solo perfect game, her third while at MU. Other teams would probably rather face the space junk.
Thomas is an intimidating competitor batters would rather not see. But for many young fans, Thomas is a standout role model, a title she’s equally proud to carry. She loves playing softball, but she is quick to point out softball isn’t everything.
Softball, like baseball, is largely understood through statistics. A single game can’t tell you much. You have to look at the bigger picture. Thomas understands the bigger picture. And for now, she’s also enjoying her view atop the softball universe.