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Talking Softball: One Heck of a Weekend

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SEC play opened with the Tigers on the road and they certainly took care of business. How excited are Switzy and The Beef?

LOTS of potential games within the week for the Tigers
LOTS of potential games within the week for the Tigers
The Beef

The Beef:

A very solid weekend for the Tigers, and you were right on the money with your prediction of the series sweep against South Carolina.  That said, did you foresee the sort of results (4-2, 9-3 and 8-0 in 6 innings) which the Tigers put forth?

Switzy:

I unequivocally did not see those results coming. Except maybe the 4-2 game. There was a great deal of (happy) surprise this weekend from the Tigers: the power surge (5 HR in 3 games after only 10 through the first 13); back-to-back 3 hit games for Corrin Genovese; a solid performance from Kelsea Roth in 2 starts and a pinch hit appearance (2-5, 2 walks, 3 runs, 3 RBI, the powerfullest of the home runs). And that doesn't even get into the pitching, which gave up exactly 2 earned runs all weekend and mostly avoided the types of trouble situations that had you worried previously.

What really sweetened it for me, though, was noting how the Tigers managed to dominate despite the usual suspects being notably below par. Taylor Gadbois went 1-9 with 2 walks, and Emily Crane was 2-9 with 2 walks, and they scored only 2 of the Tiger runs between them. If their normal rate of production can match up with the rest of the lineup's hitting from this weekend, Mizzou softball could be in for something special.

So I know you were tied up with the country's best wrestling team this weekend for a while...but did you notice anything else worth mentioning, good or bad?

The Beef:

I followed the end of the game on Saturday, where I was quite surprised (and then a little worried) to find Paige Lowary getting the start.  At that point, I grew concerned about having seen some bio-tape on the shoulder of Tori Finucane when I watched the Notre Dame game the week before and feared the worse.  That said, I was very encouraged to see Lowary recover from the bad outing against Penn State and do a nice job to start the series.  Sunday then seemed to work out perfectly, as a 7-1 lead going into the bottom of the 6th allowed Coach E to remove Tori (after only 53 pitches) and the Tigers held on for the 9-3 win (though Cheyenne gave up a couple of runs, one earned).  On Monday night, it took a little time, but the Tigers took advantage of shoddy fielding and a shrinking strike zone to get a couple of timely hits and blow open what would ultimately be a run-rule effort.  The fact that Tori had two starts and wins and threw less than 120 pitches on the weekend is nice, especially since we have mid-week softball later this afternoon.

So unless you have anything else about South Carolina, how about we touch briefly on SEMO before moving on to the weekend tournament.  Wow…busy week for the Tigers with EIGHT games from Monday to Sunday.

Switzy:

SEMO is suffering from cancelitis, as 10 of their scheduled games have been cancelled so far this season. In the 9 they have gotten in, they are 3-6 with only a couple games against major competition, including a loss to Arkansas 5-2 in their most recent game (which was March 1st). At the plate, they are very solid, hitting .342 on the year. Kayla Fortner leads the team with a .481 average and 5 HR. But in the circle, they have struggled mightily. The team ERA is nearly 7, and their "best" ERA belongs is the 6.22 belonging to Keiara Schilling, who has only 6 strikeouts in 18 innings work.

This is the kind of mid-week series where even a close game is nerve-wracking. Because Mizzou should run away with both games. I would not be surprised to see Lowary and Baxter get the starts for the doubleheader later today.

What's on tap this weekend?

The Beef:

What is on tap for the weekend is a big case of cancelitis staring us right in the face.

So the Tigers are supposed to head to Raleigh, NC for five games as part of the NC State/Hyatt Place Invitational. They would slated to take on Fordham and Lipscomb on Friday, Binghamton and NC State on Saturday and then Longwood on Sunday. Problem is…weather in Raleigh for the weekend LOOKS AWFUL. Like…why even bother to travel awful. What would be marvelous would be to either stay home and see if ANYONE can play in Como or find another place that has games and better weather.

But if they are going to go and if they are going to play, here is what we could see.

  • Fordham – 9-7 on the season with a couple of ranked opponents. One was a 5-0 loss to Tennessee and the other was a 10-5 win over Minnesota (both ranked in the low teens). Their hitting and pitching are both OK, though they do not have big power numbers. Rachel Gillen is their ace, sporting a 2.16 ERA and 66K’s over 55 innings
  • Lipscomb – 8-10 on the season with three losses against ranked opponents. #3 Michigan swept them (7-1 and 13-1 in 5) and then #4 Alabama also beat them (6-1). They have a little power but not much hitting for average and their pitching has been hit around pretty good (to the tune of a 4.53 team ERA). Both starters are 4-5 with almost matching ERA’s (3.80 to 3.82) and both are about 1:1 K to innings pitched
  • Binghampton – 8-6 on the season with a loss to Michigan (15-0) and two losses to #23 Arizona State (1-0 and then…um…22-5). They have got some power (15 HR’s) and some average (.324), but as would be expected, they have given up a lot of runs. Team ERA is over 7 and their #1 starter is sitting at 6.44. They also have twice as many walks as a staff (63 in 88.1 innings) as K’s (34).
  • NC State – 10-7 on the season, but coming off of a series sweep of #23 Notre Dame (4-2, 9-2 and 8-3). They have played some big teams this season, though without much success (until this weekend). They have losses against #7 UL-Lafayette (6-0), #5 LSU (7-0, 4-2), and #1 Florida (1-0, 5-3 and 3-0). They have also fallen prey to cancelitis (ironically on what I guess was the first version of the NC State Hyatt Place Challenge), as they lose nine straight games to cancellation to close February. They very much hit for power (24 HR’s), but not for average (.247). Team ERA is just over 2.5 with their best starter sitting at an even 3.00. Their pitchers do have good control though, with only 43 BB’s in 112 innings (against 138 K’s).
  • Longwood – 3-12 on the season, with losses of note to South Carolina (10-0), #16 Cal (3-0 and 4-3) and (RV) Utah (10-1 and 3-2). .237 team batting average and only 7 HR’s on offense with a team ERA over 4 and as many walks as strikeouts in the circle.

So, assuming we were to play all five games (which we won’t), how do you see this going? What are you hoping to see?

Switzy:

::checks WU::

::laughs::

Yeah, weather looks bad for Raleigh. Sunday looks okay, but that Longwood game is the least valuable of a low-value bunch.

But let's play pretend. If they play all 5, they really should win all 5. I would peg NC State as a potential toughie, and it appears that Fordham could be a challenge. But realistically, this is a stats (and wins) padding weekend that Mizzou is poised to lose out on. 4-1 wouldn't be the end of the world, but anything less would be worrisome.

If they play, I will be hoping to see continued production from some of the mid-lineup bats that warmed up against SC, and an improved show from the top of the lineup. I'd also like to see Finucane and Lowary have nothing but easy innings, and Cheyenne Baxter have the chance to continue developing via game action as much as possible. On a more specific note, I would like to see Kelsea Roth continue to bounce back. She was a force two years ago and has seemed a bit lost since. A resurgence from her during her senior campaign would be a great story.

Anything you'd add to that, Beef? It's about time to wrap this thing up...

The Beef:

I agree whole-heartedly about Kelsea Roth. Getting her going (along with Sanchez who seems to be coming around nicely) would really start to put some pop back into the lineup. Roth CRUSHED that late-game HR against USC and hopefully that can carry through to some better results.

When we have weekends like this (and certainly stretches of 8 potential games in 7 days), pitching management is key for me. Getting through this past weekend with Tori having pretty minimal wear and tear (nevermind pitching as well as she did) was great leading into this weekend. I’d like to see Lowary get a lot of time to hopefully keep working on getting through lineups the second time through. And for Baxter, I certainly think she could see a start (or maybe two) and certainly some solid innings later in games too should the opportunity arise. Keep people sharp and hopefully build confidence in those who are struggling.

Until next time…

....but keep in mind the Tigers do play two today at home starting at 4pm (for the first time all season in fact) against SEMO.  Here are some particulars as we can make this our live thread as well

Release: HERE
To watch: HERE
To follow: HERE