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Sunday Live Thread!

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(Jeff Lautenberger photo via <a href="http://www.mutigers.com/sports/w-softbl/recaps/060511aab.html" target="new">MUtigers.com</a>)
(Jeff Lautenberger photo via MUtigers.com)

1. Nice Season, Ladies.

We should take the time to a) thank and applaud the most successful senior class in Mizzou Softball history, and b) lay out the basics of what the roster will look like next year.  A huge senior class walks out the door, and a huge freshman class walks in.

Who's Gone
OF Rhea Taylor
C Megan Christopher
2B Abby Vock
OF Lisa Simmons
1B/OF Marla Schweisberger
C/1B Cat Lee
OF Kathryn Poet
OF Shana White
OF Alaina Burkhart

Who's Back
P Chelsea Thomas (Jr.)
P Kristin Nottelmann (So.)
3B/OF Nicole Hudson (Jr.)
SS Jenna Marston (Jr.)
1B/OF Ashley Fleming (Sr.)
IF/C Maddison Ruggeberg (So.)
IF/OF Princess Krebs (Jr.)
1B/P Lindsey Muller (Jr.)
OF Taylor Duplechain (So.)
2B/3B Ashlie Ortega (Jr.)
UT Brianna Corwin (So.)
UT Mackenzie Sykes (So.)
C/1B Rachel Hay (Jr.)

Who's Coming
IF Corrin Genovese (Under Armour All-American from East Amherst, NY)
1B Kelsea Roth (big-time, big-time, big-time power hitter from Yorba Linda, CA)
P Bailey Erwin (big strikeout pitcher from Claremore, OK)
C Carlie Rose (set state SLG% record at Nixa, MO)
OF Kayla Kingsley (stolen bases threat from Oklahoma City, OK)
IF Taylor Gadbois (stolen bases threat from Maryville, MO)
OF Kelsi Jones (another solid power hitter from Carmel, IN)
IF Ashtin Stephens (Top 5 in state career hits at Blue Springs, MO)
C/IF Angie Randazzo (a catcher, and triples hitter, from Poway, CA)
C/1B Alyssa Cousins (another solid power hitter from Carrollton, TX)

It is the mark of an extremely successful program that such a great, gigantic senior class can leave and I can still be rather optimistic, but there are no guarantees of success, and what Mizzou accomplished with this year's seniors -- four Super Regionals, three WCWS appearances, and a conference title -- is just staggering.  No pressure, freshmen.

As for the incoming class and the holes the senior class leaves, three players will be needed to contribute immediately:

1) A catcher. Christopher's departure behind the plate might be as big, or bigger, than Taylor's departure from centerfield (and the basepaths).  She was an incredibly good defensive player, and she had an unbelievable rapport with Chelsea Thomas.  It appears the job should go to either Maddison Ruggeberg, Rachel Hay, Carlie Rose, Angie Randazzo or Alyssa Cousins.  I have to figure Ruggeberg's the leader if she's any good defensively, but the newcomers are interesting prospects.

2) A power bat.  It was proven (again) at the WCWS that Mizzou is a great pitching/defensive team and a good offensive team.  Good offense can't score much against great pitching, and at the WCWS, everybody has great pitching.  Despite the loss of Taylor, Simmons, etc., Mizzou has to figure out a way to get better offensively, and one has to figure it comes from the newcomers.  We've been drooling over the thought of Kelsea Roth hitting bombs since she committed well over a year ago, and it would be lovely if she (or Kelsi Jones, or Alyssa Cousins, or anybody else) were able to make an immediate impact in the middle of the order.  And while we're at it, I should mention that Corrin Genovese could be another Jenna Marston type of all-around athlete and hitter. She might not have a lot of power, but I'd settle for another .350+ hitter, wouldn't you?

3) Speed.  In the official release announcing the signing class, Ehren Earleywine said that the incoming class has more speed than any he has ever signed.  Good, because in losing Rhea Taylor, we lose the fastest, most effective base-runner in Mizzou history.  There are some really interesting weapons available here -- Jenna Marston and Ashley Fleming both had double-digit steals, and it seems to be a strength of many of the incoming freshmen.

2. Get Your Denmoney

The Trib: Tigers’ Denmon tops rankings of returning talents
The Trib (Steve Walentik): Denmon throwing out first pitch in KC

Two reasons to think about Marcus Denmon?  Two reasons to think about Marcus Denmon!

3. You're Watching Federer-Nadal, Right?

This is some amazing tennis. Unfortunately Nadal has absolutely sucked the life out of Federer after Fed played at an unbelievable level for the first eight games or so. Still ... soak it in.