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2015 Missouri Tigers softball preview, part 3

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What fun would a preview piece if we didnt take a WAG at a lineup and season result prediction?

Our fearless and sometimes frozen leader
Our fearless and sometimes frozen leader
The Beef

{Missed anything?  Check out Part 1 and Part 2}

The Beef
So while we wait on that final schedule to be released, you want to take a crack at your starting 9/10?

Switzy
I suspect there is going to be some platooning initially, but here's a wild stab at the general lineup we'll be seeing this season:

1. Taylor Gadbois - CF

2. Emily Crane - RF

3. Corrin Genovese - SS

4. Angela Randazzo - DP

5. Sami Fagan/Amanda Sanchez - 3B

6. Kelsey Roth - 1B

7. Natalie Fleming - 2B

8. Kirsten Mack/Sami Fagan - C

9. Anna Reed - LF


Finucane - P

Notes: Sami Fagan seems the most likely to be moved around the field to keep her in the lineup, although Crane is also capable of multiple positions (and in a perfect world, would be playing 2nd, IMO). Also, that LF option is a complete guess, as is the place in the lineup. Freshman Morgan Walters could get a shot if she flashes in practice, and Kayla Kingsley would be an option if she is sufficiently healthy. I expect quite a bit of pinch hitting/split shifts early in the season as Coach Earleywine figures out his optimal group.

What do you think, Beef? How do you see this team piecing together?


The Beef
Interesting stuff with your move of Corrin up to #3.  I feel like Coach E may want to keep some power a little closer to the top after the table-setters, so here is what I will counter with:

Gadbois - CF

Crane - RF

Fagan - C

Sanchez - 3B

Randazzo - DP

Genovese - SS

Roth - 1B

Fleming - 2B

Reed - LF


Finucane - P

I like the speed up front, with some power through the middle (especially Randazzo as a RBI machine).  The bottom of the order should be tough too if Roth can pick it back up a bit (though I love how she collects walks).  Fleming and Reed at the bottom is exciting if they are what I hope they will be, and obviously a healthy Kingsley could potentially bring some interesting quirks with her speed if she is up for it. But to your point, I think Coach E is a tinkerer and this is a moving target for sure.

Now, with the schedule FINALLY starting to take shape (thanks to the hard work of Switzy and CPC, which can be viewed HERE, what do you think of some of the potential,  out-of-conference  opponents we are looking at to start  the season?

{Late Wednesday afternoon, the schedule was finally released on MUTigers.com}


Switzy
Seeing how the power develops (or doesn't) will be very interesting.

Looking over the non-con schedule, I really like the group of teams we'll be facing. Based on last year's final RPI, there are a lot of top 50 programs. I am most interested to see how Mizzou fares against perennial Pac-12 powerhouses Arizona and UCLA, but Notre Dame, Texas, Lipscomb, James Madison, and a few others could really give the team a good early challenge. Coach Earleywine has seemed intent on giving his teams some tests, and I think the move to the SEC has only strengthened that strategic element of his scheduling.

Conference play is always tough in the SEC - what are your thoughts on what we think is the likely schedule there?


The Beef
I think it is pretty solid and I like some of the higher-ranked opponents early in the season to give Finucane and Lowary some tests and some seasoning.  I am sure we will get more into the SEC teams as we go along with the year, but that Florida series in early May is pretty damn intriguing and attractive.  Could that be for the regular season title?  You'd have to believe Florida will be in the mix.  I think Mizzou  might be a year or two away from being in the mix (which, in  turn, would put them in the mix for a national title), but  that is still a heck of a carrot to have dangled out there  all season if everything fires at 100 percent.

So, understanding that the schedule is likely still light a couple of OOC games against some lesser opponents, want to be so bold as to put a regular season record on the board?


Switzy
Looking over Missouri softball's recent record - under what Wiki lovingly calls "the Earleywine Legacy" - last season was the least successful in some time. And yet, the team accomplished a lot. I think by any measure, this year's team is shaping up to be even stronger. So with last year's 43-18 regular season record as an establishing mark, I would be comfortable saying this year's squad should improve on that record by at least 2-3 games, and possibly more if Paige Lowary flashes. Last year's SEC record was 15-9; given the quality teams missing from Mizzou's schedule this year (including Alabama) I would think a slight improvement is possible there as well.

That might not be the bold version of predictions you were looking for, Beef. Maybe you can show me how it's done...and give any closing thoughts to this preview.


The Beef
The Earleywine Legacy....oh my.

Thanks for putting up the record of the team last season.  If you had asked me, I would have likely told you the team did not get to 40 wins.  And while 43 wins is not THAT far over 40, it certainly feels better to look at that and think, "Huh, guess it was not as bad as I thought it was".  And considering this team still hosted a NCAA Regional, it is pretty amazing that THAT felt bad to me.  Legacy indeed.

I like seeing a decent list of national-level teams we believe will give MU solid competition to start the season.  I also have to believe the SEC is as strong as it is each season, though the exact strength probably wont be fully known until the season gets going. But again, to compare last year to the projection of this one, if Finucane stays the same and Lowary is an improvement over Stangel on the Saturday games, all of a sudden, we could and probably should be better than 15-9.

Nothing bold about the pick, other than you have now put me into the role of BST on our wrestling posts.  You have become the voice of reason to my starry-eyed whimsy.  That is probably as bold as it gets. But I am excited about this team and what they might be able to do this season if they get some good breaks and avoid the bad ones in the pitching circle.

Alright everyone, more to come as the season goes on and hopefully we will reconvene before the first weekend of the season, which is only a few weekends away.