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2018 Mizzou Softball: Guess the schedule

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It’s time for everybody’s favorite winter tradition.

Softball-stock

For the last four years, I’ve stolen a bit of the softball SID’s thunder by attempting to release the schedule before the school. I think I have their attention because last year when this post went up, they posted a picture of their team poster which included the schedule that same day.

This year, I know they’re close to completing the team poster, as they’ve tweeted about it a couple of times recently, so I’m going to go ahead and post what I know about the schedule now, just to stay ahead of them. Without further ado:

Tentative 2018 Mizzou Softball schedule

DATE OPPONENT RPI NOTES
DATE OPPONENT RPI NOTES
Feb. 8 vs. San Jose State 53 Kajikawa Classic; Tempe, AZ
Feb. 9 vs. UTEP 240 Kajikawa Classic; Tempe, AZ
Feb. 9 vs. Cal State Northridge 69 Kajikawa Classic; Tempe, AZ
Feb. 10 vs. Oklahoma State 28 Kajikawa Classic; Tempe, AZ
Feb. 10 vs. Oregon 1 Kajikawa Classic; Tempe, AZ
Feb. 11 vs. Oregon State 49 Kajikawa Classic; Tempe, AZ
Feb. 16 vs. Umass-Lowell 189 Michele Smith Pediatric Cancer Foundation Invitational; Clearwater, FL
Feb. 16 vs. South Florida 50 Michele Smith Pediatric Cancer Foundation Invitational; Clearwater, FL
Feb. 17 vs. Oklahoma State 28 Michele Smith Pediatric Cancer Foundation Invitational; Clearwater, FL
Feb. 17 vs. Marshall 31 Michele Smith Pediatric Cancer Foundation Invitational; Clearwater, FL
Feb. 18 vs. Florida Atlantic 57 Michele Smith Pediatric Cancer Foundation Invitational; Clearwater, FL
Feb. 18 vs. South Florida 50 Michele Smith Pediatric Cancer Foundation Invitational; Clearwater, FL
Feb. 22 vs. BYU 21 Mary Nutter Classic; Cathedral City, CA
Feb. 22 vs. Arizona 5 Mary Nutter Classic; Cathedral City, CA
Feb. 23 vs. North Carolina 32 Mary Nutter Classic; Cathedral City, CA
Feb. 24 vs. Wisconsin 40 Mary Nutter Classic; Cathedral City, CA
Feb. 24 vs. Bethune-Cookman 229 Mary Nutter Classic; Cathedral City, CA
Feb. 25 vs. UCLA 2 Mary Nutter Classic; Cathedral City, CA
March 2 vs. Southeastern Louisiana 158 MIZZOU TOURNAMENT
March 3 vs. Southeastern Louisiana 158 MIZZOU TOURNAMENT
March 9 AT TENNESSEE 12
March 10 AT TENNESSEE 12
March 11 AT TENNESSEE 12
March 16 VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE 33
March 17 VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE 33
March 18 VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE 33
March 21 vs. SEMO 173
March 23 AT ARKANSAS 35
March 24 AT ARKANSAS 35
March 25 AT ARKANSAS 35
March 30 VS. LSU 11
March 31 VS. LSU 11
April 1 VS. LSU 11
April 6 AT GEORGIA 24
April 7 AT GEORGIA 24
April 8 AT GEORGIA 24
April 11 vs. Nebraska-Omaha 196
April 20 AT SOUTH CAROLINA 22
April 21 AT SOUTH CAROLINA 22
April 22 AT SOUTH CAROLINA 22
April 27 VS. AUBURN??? 7
April 28 VS. AUBURN??? 7
April 29 VS. AUBURN??? 7
May 4 VS. FLORIDA 3
May 5 VS. FLORIDA 3
May 6 VS. FLORIDA 3

From a scheduling perspective: February looks pretty locked in. 18 games in three tournaments is a lot for a short month. March and April, however, are incomplete.

Missouri once again makes a trip to Tempe. This year it’s for the season opening Kajikawa Classic, which keeps getting more competitive each year. Then it’s off to the Tampa area for the Michele Smith Pediatric Cancer Foundation Invitational. In an interesting twist, we’ll play Oklahoma State both weekends. Then it’s back out west for the annual pilgrimage to the high desert at the Mary Nutter Classic, which is always a who’s who of top softball programs.

Missouri once again hosts the “Mizzou Tournament” the first weekend of March, this time with Southeastern Louisiana, Creighton and Drake all coming to town. SE Louisiana has released their schedule, which shows their games. Drake has released theirs showing participation, but not specific games and Creighton hasn’t released anything yet. My gut feeling is doubleheaders Friday and Saturday and a single game Sunday, I just don’t have any feeling how it’ll get divvied up.

The SEC schedule is most of the way complete. However, there is an oddity in it this year. Seven of the 8 series I can confirm, but Auburn and Ole Miss haven’t released their schedules. According to my rotation chart, that means we’ll host Auburn this year. But what’s interesting is that there are two potential weekends: April 13-15 and April 27-29, the latter being more likely.

Mizzou conference schedule rotation

So what happens April 13-15? I noticed on a few schools websites a “Strike Out Cancer” weekend. I’m sure we’ve participated in the past (at least, since we quit with the Missouri Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament), but I’m not sure it was advertised as such If we have, it’s been part of a normal SEC series.

But what I noticed were a few schools with non-conference games set up for that weekend. The one team I’ve been keeping an eye on for this weekend is Georgia Tech. We went down there a couple of years ago, and I don’t recall them making the return trip. It’s also possible there could be another road trip, much like the New Mexico State/UTEP trip last year. Stay tuned.

After that, there’s still midweek games that I haven’t been able to lock in yet. Playing Illinois in St. Charles is an obvious game or doubleheader that’s missing. Other schools in my “most likely to play” list that haven’t released schedules: Ball State, Bradley, Evansville, IUPUI, Tulsa, UMKC, Western Illinois, Western Kentucky and Wichita State. It’s also possible that someone from off my list could be added.

Having said all of that, including Auburn, I have 46 out of the maximum 56 games. I think it’s most likely that they’ll schedule the full 56 knowing some games may get cancelled due to weather.

I always try to keep up with RPI rankings as a measure of strength of schedule. It’s not the most accurate, but it at least puts a number on a team. The RPI numbers listed above are from the final RPI rankings last year. I pulled the RPI numbers going back to 2013 and applied the previous year final RPI to the following year schedule to show how the strength of schedule looks from the preseason. It really doesn’t fluctuate much:

Year-to-year Preseason RPI

What is interesting, however, is how poorly Missouri played last year against a relatively easy schedule. In fact, 2017 was the fourth-worst year in Missouri softball history based on winning percentage.

I’m sure Switzy (or somebody) will get more into all of that in February when the season gets closer.

But for now, you can begin to make some travel arrangements! Oh...one last thing...and it’s a biggie: Missouri hosts the SEC tournament this year, May 9 - May 12. There’s a rotation to the tournament too, I just don’t know what it is. I do know it’ll be at least 10 years before we host it again. So be sure to get down there and check it out!

12/17 UPDATE: We can add the following to the schedule:
March 2 - Drake*
March 4 - Drake *
April 11 - VS. Nebraska-Omaha
April 13 - VS. AUBURN**
April 14 - VS. AUBURN**
April 15 - VS. AUBURN **
April 25 - VS. Western Illinois (DH)

*- Mizzou Tournament
**- Auburn released their schedule with these dates, as pointed out by ekstrong in the comments.

That takes the schedule to 50 games out of a maximum of 56. That leaves probably one more game at the Mizzou Tournament against Creighton and most likely a single against Illinois in St. Charles. That gets us to 52 games. There’s still 6 open midweek slots, plus an entire weekend April 27-29 left to schedule. I have 50 teams (not including Missouri) who haven’t released their schedule, including 9 on my “most likely” list (Bradley, Creighton, Evansville, Georgia Tech, Illinois, IUPUI, Tulsa, UMKC, Wichita State).

A couple more things to add: the games of the Kajikawa Classic involving Pac-12 schools will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. The rest of the tournament as well as the Mary Nutter tournament will be streamed by FloSoftball ($$$). ESPN and the SEC Networks haven’t released their televised schedules yet, which will shift some games around (they like the SEC games to be on Saturday-Monday).