The Beef cannot post from work, so he passed this along to me. Or, to put it in much cooler terms, this Mizzou-Oregon Super Regional preview is so XTREEEEEEEEEEEEME that he wasn't allowed to post it!!!!! Yeah, we'll go with that. Take it away, Beef!
So I went back to what I had written last year and basically have just copied the format. Lots of interesting tid-bits about the Ducks as they make their first ever appearance in a NCAA Super Regional round, and the Tigers host their first ever Super Regionals. Let's break them down and see where we come out. Let's start at the top with the pure numbers:
Last year (2009): Oregon was 16-34 on the season, 3-18 in conference. For the season, they had only one batter who hit over .300, and they had no one who hit over .200 in 21 games of Pac-10 play (as a team hitting .145). Needless to say, they have come quite a way since last year. This was a team who made the NCAA's in 2008 won two games while there, finally falling to OU in the regional-clinching game.
- 36-19 (including 3-0 in Atlanta Regional).
- 14-5 at home, 5-10 on the road and 17-4 in neutral games (including NCAA's). 8-13 in Pac-10
- #20 in the last USA Today poll on Monday before NCAA's began. #24 in the NCAA RPI's
Stats (before NCAA's):
- Team batting average of .299 (.235 for the opposition, .302 for Mizzou)
- Team slugging of .467 (.345 for the opposition, .492 for Mizzou)
- Team OBP of .370 (.317 for the opposition, .402 for Mizzou)
- 50 HR's (30 for the opposition, 58 for Mizzou)
- 43-62 in stolen bases (45-50 for the opposition, 115-141 for Mizzou)
- 2.45 ERA (4.32 for the opposition, 2.32 for Mizzou)
- 441 K's/139 BB's in 348.2 innings (288K's/137 BB's for the opposition, 335 K's/109 BB's in 365 innings for Mizzou)
- Fielding percentage of .956 (.966 for the opposition, .967 for Mizzou)
Non-conference saw the Ducks score some nice wins and a 25-6 tally. They started the season with a win over #36 RPI Notre Dame and then #82 Creighton before falling to #43 Texas Tech 4-3 (Mizzou swept Tech at home). The next tournament saw the Ducks get shutout by #32 BYU and their best win come against #113 Long Beach State. They'd get it going the next weekend, going 4-0 with wins against #14 aTm (Mizzou split on the road), #57 Long Island and #16 Hawaii. They would collect most of the rest of their wins against the likes of 150+ RPI squads like Boise St, Portland and North Dakota. Unlike Mizzou and the Big XII, once the Pac-10 gets into their conference season, there really are not OOC games.
Pac 10 Action:
The perennial power conference had seven of the top 23 teams in the RPI, so you can only imagine the gauntlet to be run by the Ducks. They would score an impressive home, three-game sweep against #13 California in the second series of the conference slate and sat 5-1 at that point. They would then take one of three against #2 Washington at home (beating Danielle Lawrie 4-0 in the middle game) before going on the road and taking only one game (against #15 Arizona State) out of six against ASU and #6 UCLA. Now sitting 7-8, the Ducks would further limp to the finish. Their last conference win would come at home against #7 Arizona, but they finished on the road being swept by #21 Stanford to finish with the 8-13 record.
Offense: (stats through May 15)
Oregon is led by their number three hitter and true frosh RF Sam Pappas, who led the team in most offensive categories (.396 BA, 60 hits, 11 HR's, 46 RBI's, 23 BB's, 102 TB's, .667 slugging, 11 SB's). Right behind her would be the Duck leadoff hitter, freshman LF Allie Burger (.386 BA, 32 runs, 3 triples, 487 OBP). Senior Blair Williamson saw action in 36 games with 22 starts and bats .371, but does not seem to be starting right now. The only other regular Duck hitter over .300 is sophomore SS Kelsey Chambers who bats 4th and hit .313 with 8 HR's and 38 RBI's. Another Duck who needs to be mentioned is senior CF Neena Bryant, who was the lone duck to hit over .300 last season, but is down at .279 with 7 HR's. Freshman 2B Kaylan Howard was another big power bat for the Ducks, hitting .281 with 8 HR's.
As we saw above, Oregon was not very strong in the field, with a .956 fielding percentage. Defense up the middle with Howard and Chambers saw a combination of 30 errors (the entire team committed 64 errors). This led to Oregon giving up 64 unearned runs (a THIRD of their total runs for the season). This will be an interesting development, especially since Chambers and Howard have only one year of experience between the two of them.
The workhorse of this staff has certainly become freshman Jessica Moore, who led the team in most pitching categories, and who pitched all but the last 1.2 innings in their three NCAA tournament wins this past weekend. For the regular season, Moore was only 14-11 (with 4 saves), but with a very solid 1.87 ERA in 164.2 innings. She made 26 starts and had 11 complete games, while giving up 149 hits and 80 runs (only 44 earned) with 216 K's to 60 walks. Hitters only touched her for a .227 BA. The other starter would appear to be sophomore Sam Skillingstad, who went 11-6 (in 18 starts) with a 2.77 ERA in 98.2 innings. Surprisingly, it was #4 pitcher sophomore Mikayla Endicott who came on to pitch those last 1.2 innings and was marvelous in securing the regional-clinching win against Ga Tech. On the season, she only threw 44.1 innings, going 3-2 with a 3.63 ERA, but was dominant against 5 batters in a high-pressure situation.
It is very interesting how a year changes things. At this point last year, I wrote this about Mizzou's chances against another Pac-10 opponent:
Is there any way I can sit here and tell you I believe Mizzou is going to win this series this weekend? Not really
But my how the times have changed. Now, thanks to another year in the national spotlight, and an upset by the Oregon Ducks in the Atlanta Regional, most will feel Mizzou has a great chance to get back to OKC for the 2nd straight year. Mizzou certainly has the experience edge, as Oregon is full of players making their first appearance in the NCAA's, and as a team they have never made the Super Regional round in their history, while Mizzou steps in for the third straight season. However, many of the players driving the Tigers are just as young as the Ducks, so the experience is not quite as tipped in the Tigers' favor as one might think.
All that being said, these series often come down to pitching. Last year, sophomore (and will be once again) Chelsea Thomas stunned UCLA in Game 1 with a 2-1 win before Stacy Delaney came up huge and the UCLA very much did not in the Game 3 run-rule win. This year, the Tiger's road to OKC is a little tougher without Thomas. sophomore Kristen Nottelmann certainly came up big this past weekend, earning all three wins with two complete games and a great relief effort in the first game against Creighton. Senior Jana Hainey had a very strong end of the year, and pitched very well in the Big XII tournament, and will likely see some action at some point this coming weekend, but beyond that? I doubt we will see freshman Lindsey Muller, so the Tigers will need to do this with a shorter staff than they would like.
Just like last year, I am not going to make a prediction about this series. The opportunity for the Tigers to make it back to OKC after losing their ace will only strengthen their national credibility and recruiting prowess. The chance to do so at home only helps their cause. The tables have been completely turned, as the Ducks have nothing to lose...just like Mizzou did last year against UCLA. Will the Tigers remember that and do what the Bruins could not?