Missouri Student-Athlete Spotlight: Eric Anderson
Courtesy: Big12Sports.com
          Release: 05/24/2011
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By Molly Hulsey
Big 12 Campus Correspondent

Missouri baseball has a long history of Friday night aces, and after a hot start in his debut season last year, Eric Anderson looked to join their ranks. One torn labrum later, his journey to the starting spot took a difficult turn.

After offseason surgery, Anderson is back, and relishing every moment.

“It feels great [to be back],” Anderson said. “Going through an injury like that makes you not take anything for granted anymore. It feels good to get back out there.”

His return could not have come at a better time for the Tigers. Since rehabbing from his injury, Anderson started the first four conference series for Missouri, and emerged victorious in each of those starts.

Although Anderson only pitched two innings in his first appearance since his surgery, an 11-4 victory over Central Arkansas this March, he was able to shake off the rust and warm up for some powerhouse conference performances.

“It was a pretty big deal for me,” Anderson said of his first game back. “After all the work I had gone through, it was great. A lot of hard work goes into all the rehab, so it meant a lot to me.”

Injuries often prove just as debilitating mentally as physically. Although having his freshman season cut short was challenging for Anderson, he says the obstacle helped him gain a fresh perspective on the sport he loves.

“It was a really big motivator for me,” Anderson said. “I have to go out there every day and not take it for granted. At any point, you might not be healthy, so I can’t take baseball for granted at all. It taught me to enjoy the game as much as anything.”

While there are still steps to take in his recovery, Anderson has showed flashes of the enormous potential he has in several outings this season. Perhaps his most impressive was an 11-1 victory over Texas Tech, in which he pitched seven shutout innings, throwing a season-high 93 pitches, 61 of which were for strikes.

His 4-0 start to the conference season provided a much-needed spark for a Missouri team that has struggled at times, but always found a way to keep hope alive.

“I’m trying to do as much as I can to contribute,” Anderson said. “My start to the season means a lot, and it just happened to work out that I was able to be a part of some big wins.”

He has an opportunity to be a part of some even bigger ones. Missouri clinched its ninth straight Big 12 Tournament appearance over the weekend against Nebraska, and will face top-seeded Texas this Wednesday as the No. 8 overall seed. After a strong finish to the season, Anderson believes the team has a chance to be competitive in the tournament.

“I think we’ll do great,” Anderson said. “I think our team is the hot team right now, and the hot team in baseball has a good chance to win. I think we have a good shot going into this tournament.”

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