Monday Musings - The Expectations are Coming Edition

I have been doing my best to temper and otherwise ignore my expectations about the Mizzou Softball team, but I do not think I can fight off those feelings anymore.  Aside from that, it's been a crazy week for me so I dont know that there will be much mused on the other sports since I just never got around to following them this week.  But, softball has my undivided attention and it is probably time they have the same from more people as well.

Softball:

The team is now sitting at 36-5 overall and 8-2 in conference after a perfect 3-0 week.  They made quick and pretty easy work of a SIU team which was ranked as high as 24th in one of the national polls earlier in the week, with another run-rule win on Wednesday.  The pitching was solid and the offense got it done, as freshman Ashley Fleming hit the third Tiger HR of the afternoon as a walk-off effort in the bottom of the 5th to close out the 9-1 win.  On to the weekend, the Tigers took both road games in what should be considered their last real road test of the season against a decent Okie State team.  They were not quite as sharp on Friday, winning 5-3, but only on 5 hits and giving up more runs than they have been of late.  However, freshman Kristen Nottlemann came in after Delaney was a little off and shut down the Cowgirl attack with three great innings.  She came back on Saturday and threw seven more solid innings for the 6-1 win, her 10th on the season against only one loss.  She has done a marvelous job in terms of stepping in during the conference season after the injury to Chelsea Thomas, who was lights-out for most of the out of conference season and who is expected (or at least assumed I guess) to be coming back at some point.  If and when she does, this team will be really tough.

Looking ahead, the Tigers return home for an out of conference pair midweek against the Artists Formally Known as UM-Rolla.  Rolla is 14-21 on the season.  Then on to the weekend and the last regular season road trip down to Lubbock against Texas Tech.  The Raiders are 2nd to last in conference with a 2-9 record (only 14-31 overall).  Right now, the Tigers are one half game clear of Baylor (8-3 in conference), but the Tigers have a sweep against the Bears.  Next down would be Oklahoma at 8-4, who Mizzou has yet to play.  The Sooners have three conference games this week, with one against Okie State and two against aTm, all at home.  A 2-1 result would be a solid effort for them, but SHOULD help out the Tigers nicely. 

Somehow, the Sooners do not play on the last weekend of the conference season, so the regular season champion may certainly be wrapped up by the end of NEXT weekend when the Tigers get the Sooners at home for two after getting a mid-week double-header agains cellar-dweller ISU on 4/22.  Mizzou will finish their season at home the first weekend in May against a middle of the road NU squad (5-5/29-10).  I know I will be bombarded with the RMN jinx and what-not, but this team has all signs of being absolutely for real and built amazingly well for the post season.

Football:

I am still without much to talk about on football, which I guess I find strange since this is probably the biggest spring Mizzou has had since Brad Smith was about to graduate and move on and Chase Daniel was going to take the reigns.  I dont really have a lot of thoughts on the defense at this point other than I am pleased to hear about Aldon Smith at DE and that we seem to have some options in the secondary.  On offense however, I am liking what I am hearing on a number of fronts.

First, on the coaching front, I am pleased in hearing what I feel are some very veteran and savvy things coming out of Coach Yost's mouth.  I am heartened by the fact he really seems to grasp the main crux of this offense, which is to take what the defense is giving.  In the past couple of years, that was earned from a split of "traditional" rushing and passing counts (we all know Mizzou's passing often serves a runing nature).  Last season, it was gained from utilizing two of the most amazing offensive talents in Maclin and Coffman, but it really does appear we aim to return to the split and potentially even see where a healthy D. Wash and Devion Moore may see the field at the same time.

As for the offense itself, the last two weeks have been encouraging to see Gabbert take what the defense was giving.  Last week, that mean controlled throws to achieve yardage.  This week, it meant more aggression down the field.  While I would love to see that aggression come with Danario, Jared and Eggo catching the ball, it is great to see it coming nonetheless.  With 4 receivers on the sidelines, it is great seeing other options becoming more and more viable.  That only means more in the mix come the summer and fall, and we all know this offense can always use 8-10 options between the TE and WR position.  Anyway, I think Gabbert is doing a great job of controlling the offense and seems to not be pushing, which is a great sign from a freshman.  Certainly, the pushing and forcing will come, but I am very pleased with the start.

Baseball:

Here where the Musings start getting shorter and shorter.  Total Jekyll and Hyde stuff this past week and season I guess, as they get 20 runs in a win and give up 19 in a loss.  The Boy has done some great work over the past week or so chronicling what this team will need to do to keep their post-season streak alive.  Their schedule coming home is certainly a little easier than it was going out, but they still need to get on one heck of a streak here and soon.  They have another five game week, starting with two during the middle of the week against the Sycamores of Indiana State.  Then they will hit the road for a weekend set against k-State in Manhatten.  They really are the to the point where they need a sweep or two, and there is no time like the present to start.

Women's Tennis:

Just one match this past week for the 68th ranked Tigers, and they lost a tough one to the 53rd ranked Buffs.  The Tigers were right with the Buffs, and really should have won it with the doubles' point.  However, even though they were up 7-4 and serving for the match (1 set played to 8 in doubles), senior Jessica Giugiolli and sophmore Kaitlyn Richie could not close out the Buffs, and lost a 9-8 tie-breaker eventually.  Senior Sofia Ayala and freshman Danielle Day did win their match, but sophomore Mallory Weber and freshman Jamie Mera had lost theirs, giving CU the important point.  Day, Ritchie and Ayala all won their singles matches, but Giugiolli, Weber and Mera (now at #1 and in three sets) lost and so did the Tigers.

Mizzou is now 7-10 on the season and 3-6, though they really have improved and been closer in many matches.  They will take on Nebraska and Iowa State this coming weekend to close out the regular season before the Big XII Tourney in Norman in two weekends.  Oh yeah, and the Black and Gold game this coming weekend.

Outdoor Track:

The squads had their last home meet of the season this past weekend at the 13th Annual Tom Botts Invitational...oh God...I've been with Mizzou for every single one of these.  Anyway, the Tigers took on a field of a number of different college teams, with the women winning and the men coming in 2nd place by just a bit.  There were some great efforts by the Tigers, with the standard wins by Krishna Lee in two events, Chris Rohr in the hammer throw, and Shannon Leinart in the 800 meters.  Stacy Swineburg continues to impress in the high jump while Janay Woolridge took the long jump, with Bobby Schaeffer doing the same for the men.

The Tigers head down to Arkansas next weekend before the head up to the world famous Drake Relays in two weekends.  The Big XII Championships are still a month away, but the season is starting to wind down for the squad.

Coming up This Week:

The spring seasons are in full swing, with softball, baseball, tennis, track, and tennis are in action.  Men's Golf is at home the next couple of days and the last winter sport will finish as Adrienne Perry and Sarah Shire will compete in the NCAA Championships on Thursday night.  An All-American finish for one or both of them would be a great achievement.

Random Thoughts:

  • Tiger Woods has already been in FIFTEEN Masters...oy
  • Great drama up to the 16th from him and Phil...amazing television
  • I would have thought Tiger/Phil needed 7 under on the day and 11 under total to have a shot.
  • Big shots from those three at the end...fun stuff there as well.  Yesterday was pretty much like two different rounds of golf on the same day.
  • Sign of the times?  The Cardinal game I went to this week had an announced crowd of 35K (I assume tickets sold), and probably 20K in actual attendance.  While most games I have ever been to have not been full, I have never seen 35K announced and NEVER seen the place half full like it was.
  • Stanley Cup Playoffs start this week....nothing better.  New Jersey ended up as the #3 seed, and got Carolina, which I was happy to see, though I was not aware we lost 3 out of 4 to them on the season.
  • Great job in the 2nd half by the Blues to get back into the playoffs.  Exciting times for St. Louis and good to see considering the season-long injuries they had to deal with from their star players.
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