Monday Musings - The Transitional Edition

Another season wound down this past weekend, as gymnastics (from a team standpoint) completed their pretty successful 2009 campaign.  Spring football is starting to heat up, and hopefully more and more people are sitting up and taking notice of the softball team.  Can't say this is going to be a jam-packed edition by any stretch of the imagination, but let's get to the news of the week.

Football:

Not going to spend a lot of time here since I did not see the scrimmage for myself.  Going simply off of the stats provided, along with the thoughts of people like Gabe and Matter, it sounded like a perfectly decent morning scrimmage on Saturday.  I was heartened to see the fairly good efficiency from Blaine Gabbert, especially in light of the fact that without D. Wash back there, I am guessing we utilized the short passes as many of our runs for the day.  Reports have been good about the O-line, and it sounds like both Wes Kemp and Mike Egnew have had good springs to this point.  I have also read where people have been impressed with the continued progression of Andrew Jones, and I should hope the summer is filled with THOUSANDS of passes between he and Gabbert.

As for the defense, it sounds like the Dictatorship of Steckel is starting off well.  Getting this defense to play with a bit more of an edge to it (along with a better understanding of getting to the ball and communicating) should certainly make it better.  I am curious to see how the secondary pans out, along with the backup D-linemen and what rotation comes from there.  Lots of possibilities exist (Madison doing well, White getting bigger) and the more (as always) the better.  But all in all, I have to say I am pleased with what I have been reading so far.

Softball:

3-1 week for the Tigers is good, but that one loss in the 2nd game of the twin-bill against kU is going to stick in my craw for a little while.  But, the team won their other three games by run-rule and outscored their Big XII opponents 26-5 for the week...not too shabby.

I really believe Stacy Delaney has taken her game to another level at this point.  Last season, the workhorse for the squad finished the season with an ERA of 2.01.  This season, that ERA has been cut in half, and is being augmented by the fine efforts of freshman pair Kristen Nottelman (of late) and Chelsea Thomas (before her right bicep inflamation which sounds like she is about ready to return from).  As a team, the ERA has moved from 2.41 to 1.27, another (pretty much) cut in half.  Perhaps the biggest key is that no one on the staff has thrown more than 84 innings on the season (Thomas), while the workhorses of other teams are well over 100 innings, some as high as 175.

On the offense, the team is hitting an amazing .330 as a club right now through 38 games.  Last season, they hit a very serviceable .287  The HR production is down a bit (which is to be expected with 34 of 65 HR's graduating in Renth and Bruck), but the team certainly used the longball well this past weekend against aTm, hitting 5 HR's in their twin-bill massacre.  The team is first in runs scored in conference, as well as hits/game, stolen bases and walks earned.  One weakness right now is the team is 4th from the bottom in strikeouts.

A mid-week clash against SIU preceeds a big road-trip to Okie State next weekend.  The Cowgirls are kicking around the top-25 with a few votes, but Mizzou really could use a sweep here as they sit just behind UT (who they already split with).  Their next two series after OSU are bottom-dwellers ISU and TTech, so using this sweep to get on another winning streak would could very likely put Mizzou in the driver's seat for the regular season conference title.

Baseball:

Ugh...not much to say here to be honest.  I did not attend the game during the middle of the week where the Tigers put it all over SLU at Busch Stadium.  Kyle Gibson had a tremendous effort on Friday night, K'ing 15 but in a losing effort.  The Tigers could just not get it all together on Saturday, dropping another to the Sooners before coming back on Sunday and hanging on for a 5-4 win to bookend the week in wins.  Nick Tepesch was the benefactor of 5 Tiger runs in the 2nd innings, but Mizzou would not score again, only getting 4 more hits the rest of the game.  The Sooners kept chipping, but Tepesch and some relievers held the lead, and Brad Buehler got a bang-bang double play to finish the game with the tying run on 2nd base and 1 out.

The thing is, the team has shown where they CAN pitch and they CAN hit and they CAN field, but it seems they often only get one of the efforts per game, two at the most.  Unfortunately, that is not usually enough to get the wins.  The hitting has been the most troubling, as their starting lineup on Sunday had way more guys under .220 (3) than over .300 (1, freshman Connor Mach)

The Tigers have Big 10 foe Minnesota coming to town for a somewhat odd out of conference matchup before heading down to Waco next weekend to take on the Baylor Bears.

Gymnastics:

A pretty remarkable season for the gymnastics program is winding down, and has actually completed from a team standpoint as the ladies will not advance to the NCAA Championships, finishing 3rd behind #3 Alabama and #9 OU this past weekend at the Regional Championships.  A 196.000 was not enough to advance (nor should it have been at this stage in the game), and so the team will not take one step they were so hoping to take.  However, they will send not one, but two gymnasts to the NCAA Championships, both with a tremendous chance to come home as All-Americans.

Junior Sarah Shire finished 2nd in the all-around competition and was voted the region's Gymnast of the Year.  Her score of 39.450 was as solid as it has been all season, and another great performance in two weeks is sure to land her first All-American award.

Senior Adrienne Perry will complete an amazing career for the Tigers in two weeks as well, as she becomes the first Mizzou gymnast to go to four NCAA's in her time.  Perry just missed AA'ing her freshman year on the beam, placing 9th, while posting all-around finishes of 14th, 22nd and 36th, with those (interestingly) being in order from her first appearance her freshman year.  It would be a tremendous close to her career to score an AA accolade.

The team was very solid this season, paced by Shire the entire time.  I think they never quite reached their ceiling, but in a sport where one step can mean a huge difference, the Tigers were one of the best.  They will say goodbye to Alicia Hatcher (a solid 3-event performer) and Perry, but will return everyone else and should expect to be in a very simliar position next season (especially if they can infuse some young talent to fill the new gaps).

Outdoor Track:

A real nice weekend for the Outdoor Track team, as they competed in the 2nd Annual Jefferson Cup against Virginia, and Mizzou swept it in their first time hosting the event.  Both the men and women trailed after the first day, but both would come back and eek out tight wins in one of the more unique and fun events in the collegiate track world (since almost all competitions are individual based, not team based in the regular season).

Senior Chris Rohr had a dominating performance in the hammer toss, setting both meet and FACILITY records (think about how many competitions have been held at Audrey Walton), and also hitting the longest NATIONAL throw so far this season. In fact, his winning toss of 229 feet 8 inches won by just under 70 FEET.  Rohr also finished 2nd in the discus and qualified regionally for both.  Krishna Lee won the shot AND the hammer on Saturday, setting a meet record in the latter.  Freshman Stacy Swineburg continues to make a name for herself, winning her second high jump competition of the young season, while junior Brian Hancock won another pole vault title.

Next up for the team will be their final home performance of the season in the Tom Botts Invitational next Saturday.

Women's Golf:

Decent weekend and showing for the ladies down in Oxford, MS, as they finished 4th in the Lady Rebel Intercollegiate, just one stroke out of 3rd.  Julia Potter put together three pretty consistent rounds for another top-10 finish, placing 6th with a +7 finish.  Junior Michelle Morgan had two very solid days, but a +6 on the final day pushed her down into a tie for 9th with a +11 finish.  Senior Chelsea Schreiwer had to pull out of the first day of action, but shot +2 over the final two days for a pretty impressive finish.  Freshman Hannah Lovelock had an OK first two days at +10 overall, but ballooned to +15 in the final round, while Marisa Cook improved upon her +23 over the first two days with a solid +5 on the last day.

Up next for the ladies will be a few weeks off, followed by the Big XII Championships in Lubbock, TX the weekend of the 24th and 25th of April.

Women's Tennis:

The 62nd ranked Mizzou Women's Tennis team (down from 58th last weekend after a real tough loss to TTech and a drubbing at the hands of Baylor) set out on the road for the last time this regular season and took on two top-35 ranked teams in the state of Texas.  They lost both, to the Aggies of aTm 6-1 and then to the Longhorns 5-2.  Sofia Ayala won the lone match against aTm, while the team did take the doubles point from UT on wins from freshman Jamie Mera and Mallory Weber along with Ayala and freshman Danielle Day.  Mera would win the only singles match on the day against UT.

The team now returns home to finish out the remainder of their Big XII season.  They will have only one match next weekend against CU before closing out the regular season with Nebraska and Iowa State the following weekend.

Up Next:

Men's golf begins their tournament later today out in California.  Other than that, the diamond sports and track, and one tennis match is all that is on the Mizzou docket for the week.

Random Thoughts:

  • Oh April...the greatest of the sporting months.
  • Seeing as I was completely wrong in my Final Four predictions (I took UCONN and 'Nova), I will take UNC and hope I am wrong again.
  • New Jersey seems to have righted the ship and should clinch the Atlantic Division with their next game.  They are locked up with Washington for the 2nd spot overall in the east.
  • TOUGH loss of a point for the Blues on Saturday.  I am sure there are other games they blew this season, but if they miss the playoffs by that margin, Saturday's result will be remembered first.
  • I can't really say I am excited about the start of baseball...at least not as much as I typically am.  But, if the Mets can see fit to not blow as many games as they did last season, I like their chances to win the East or at least get to the playoffs.
  • I did get to see a bit of both the new Yankee and Citi Field this past weekend (MLB Network is lovely).  Both look amazing.
  • I am glad the Jets stayed out of the Cutler sweepstakes...and will continue to be pleased as long as they stay out of the Freeman race as well.  I have seen some drafts having them lean towards an RB as Thomas Jones is evidently not happy and a Drew Rosenhaus client.  Being 31, I think I would be OK if the Jets cut him loose next season and saved that cap money.  I still think I would be plenty pleased with the Jets getting a WR (I keep seeing Percy Harvin...am not THRILLED with that...would almost prefer they went with a bigger WR like a Heyward-Bey) in the 1st and a RB (maybe Brown from UCONN, even saw the Greene from Iowa going that late in one mock, though I think that is a bit of a pipedream).  Get a defensive lineman in the 3rd and a blocking TE in the 4th and I think they could be in decent shape.
  • I actually caught about the last 40 minutes of Rocky VI this past weekend....it was not as terrible as I thought it might be.
  • Not sure if anyone else watched the 2-hour Final Four pregame on CBS, but there was a story about two young men from the state of Maine who got to play for their high school basketball teams on the same night this past season.  One was autistic, the other has Down Syndrome.  An amazing story (especially tied very closely back to the kid in 2006 who hit all the 3's in his game) which if seen will be sure to pretty much make any person cry. {edit - I actually found the link...I hope this works}
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