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Softball Tuesdays with The Beef and CPC

Mizzou Network (YouTube)

A busy weekend and an even busier road trip came to an end on Saturday as the Tigers finished their 10-day/10-game California adventure with a 9-1 record. There were some tremendous highs along the way, with the Tigers knocking off the #5 Gators topping the list. But as the Tigers return to the state of Missouri to finally play some games in the Central time zone, it is time to reflect on what we learned this weekend as we head into the final weekend before SEC play gets going. CPC stands at the ready for the questions; what answers will he provide?

Q #1 - Before we get to previewing the Missouri Breast Cancer Classic next weekend down at SEMO, what is your biggest takeaway from the weekend which saw the Tigers take down a top-5 team and finish 4-1?

CPC: I was going to talk about how quiet the bats not swung by Emily Crane and Nichole Hudson were, but once I put the numbers together, it wasn’t as skewed as I thought (and since I went to the trouble of making a pretty table, here it is):

Rest of Team

I’m not sure exactly what I’m supposed to take away from this had a little bit of everything: a blowout (Maryland); a tight game (San Diego State); a nail biter upset win (Florida); the let down (CS-Fullerton Game 1) and the redemption (CS-Fullerton Game 2). Chelsea Thomas didn’t look her normal spectacular self in 2+ innings against SDSU, but came out the next day and threw 19 strikeouts in 12 innings against Florida. I guess if you had to pin me down on something, I’d say that with Chelsea in the circle, we might be unbeatable...otherwise, we’re still a good team, just a little rough. What did you get out of the weekend that I might have missed?

The Beef: Chelsea certainly proved to be as tough as nails with her outing against Florida, where most believe she was less than 100 percent. The only thing I will disagree with your final statement about is wrapped up in this little stat: 3 runs/0 earned. So while Chelsea is likely to get a strike out for just about half of the total outs in the game, she will still need the defense the help her out on the routine stuff rolling and flying behind her.

Other than that, I love seeing another successful weekend from Emily Crane. While I thought she had turned it around after her first two games and had performed well in the leadoff spot, she seems to have found a nice(r) home down the lineup. Corrin needs to keep it going at the plate and we are going to need more than .250 for the season from Marston, but the lineup is starting to solidify just a bit. Nice to get Moore off the schnide with her first career hit, but if she hopes to see a lot of time in the outfield, she will need to further improve.

Defensive help...not defensive errors. For everything Hudson is doing right at the plate, she scored 2 more errors over the weekend. As a matter of fact, the team as a whole racked up 6 errors this weekend. Genovese currently on a 9 game streak of reaching base at least once. I do think these things will sort themselves out as the season progresses: there will be less fielding mistakes and the hitting will improve, but I guess that’s why you play these kind of games early in the season.

Q #2 - The game against Florida saw extra innings, which in this case meant the use of International Softball tie-breaker rules, which is to place a runner on second base to start the inning. What are your thoughts on this? It has been around for a couple of years, but is this something you’d like to see Softball adopt across all the games? Don’t think it should be used in any of the games? Or are you good with the occasional usage in some out-of-conference tournaments like we have now?

CPC: Hate. Hate. Hate. Instead of it being a game of softball, it becomes a game of who can drive in the runner from 2nd first? It feels like a skills competition, like a penalty shootout in hockey or soccer. Having said that, I understand why tournaments like the Mary Nutter Classic would use it. They have 35 teams playing on 5 fields and the games need to fit into their time slot as close as possible, or some fields could end up playing late into the night. But then again, they didn’t have to invite so many teams. To quantify it: Missouri’s average length of game is right at 2 hours and the Florida game lasted 3 hours, 8 minutes. Without the Florida game, the average drops to 1 hour, 52 minutes.

Should it be adopted? I’d rather it didn’t, but I think that’s a decision left to the tournament organizers and individual conferences. But really, at the conference level, I don’t see where they would need to have such a rule. Certainly not in the SEC, where double headers aren’t even scheduled, so there shouldn’t be any time constraints. I absolutely do not want the NCAA adopting this rule, nor should it be used in the postseason.

The Beef: I have to agree with you on the International Rules not being adopted. I would actually be fine with their elimination from any part of the softball season, but I am with you in understanding their necessity in a setting like this. And while we are at it, I do wonder why we even consider the Mary Nutter Classic a tournament. A tournament is played to a winner. This setting, while amazing I would imagine if you were to attend it in person, simply exists for a means through which teams can get games at varying levels over this weekend. It is unique in that it is almost total softball-maggedon out there, but no one can walk away the winner.

Q #3 - The Missouri Breast Cancer Classic comes to the Cape this coming weekend with SEMO (3-5) hosting MU, SLU (3-5), UMKC (6-7) and SMS (6-8). Between them, I would categorize the “best” win belongs to SMS, who beat Iowa State 8-6. That said, with two games Friday and singles on Sat. and Sun., lay out the starting rotation.

CPC: I think if Chelsea had other plans for the weekend, say, rearranging her sock drawer, she could do that and I would feel just as comfortable with our pitching against these four teams. But, since that isn’t likely, I think Coach E is likely to follow the plan he went with last weekend: on Friday, give Chelsea 2 or 3 innings in the first game (SEMO) before bringing on Hudson or Muller. Give Erwin the start in the second game (St. Louis). Let Chelsea pitch the game on Saturday against Missouri State and then probably go with Erwin again on Sunday against UMKC.

The Beef: With the reports of foodborne illness, I don’t know that this past Friday was really how Coach E intended to use Chelsea, but unless he comments specifically on it, I suppose we will never know. I don’t see a need for him to warm Thomas up just to give her a couple of innings, which is why I also believe the move he made this past Friday was one of necessity and not one of desire. That said, I believe Erwin and Thomas each go on the first day. I would like to believe Hudson also gets a game, and then it is really a toss-up as to where the final game goes. Erwin may need the innings to work through whatever was hampering her against UC-F, or I could also see where Hudson gets another start to eat some innings. I don’t think we see much of Muller unless out of need. I also would love to believe some of these games will be shorter than most, or at least shorter than the Florida game.