On Thursday morning, Missouri Softball released its 2022 conference schedule, which contains 8 three-game series, alternating home and away, kicking off March 11 and culminating in the SEC Tournament in Gainesville, FL May 10-14.
Let’s take a closer look at who the 13th ranked Tigers will be facing, shall we?
Missouri opens its SEC slate March 11-13 with a three-game home series against the Tennessee Volunteers (42-15 overall, 12-11 SEC, 7th place), which I would anticipate to be a hotly contested series, given that the Vols poached two of the Tigers’ coaches in the offseason (Chris Malveaux, former associate head coach, and his wife, Kate, who served as the director of operations). The Tigers took 2-3 from the Vols last season, losing the opening game of the series 0-4 before taking the remaining games, 7-4 and 5-3.
After a scheduled bye, Missouri then heads out to Oxford to face Ole Miss (36-22 overall, 12-12 SEC, 8th place) March 25-27 for their first road series. The Tigers only faced the Rebels once last season in a late February game, as part of the FAU Kickoff in Boca Raton, and won 6-2.
The Tigers then return home, welcoming the Gamecocks (26-26 overall, 4-20 SEC, last place), for a series April 1-3. Missouri took all three from the team in The Other Columbia last season, winning 13-4, 7-3, and 10-6.
Then off to Starkville they go, to face Mississippi State (35-25 overall, 8-15 SEC, 9th place) April 8-10, another team the Tigers swept last season, winning 5-2, 4-3, and 6-5.
A home series with Georgia (34-23 overall, 7-17 SEC, 12th place) is next, April 14-16 (Thursday-Saturday due to Easter), and figures to be an important match up. Last season, the Tigers won the first game of the series 6-1 before losing the remaining two high scoring games, 10-14 and 7-8.
The remaining stretch of games features teams the Tigers did not play in 2021 - or in some cases - 2020, given the Covid-shortened season, including Kentucky (43-16 overall, 13-11 SEC, 5th place), who the Tigers will face in Lexington April 22-24. The Tigers and Wildcats have not met since the 2019 season, when Mizzou swept the series.
The Aggies (32-23 overall, 8-16 SEC, 10th place) are next on the schedule for the Tigers’ last home stand of the regular season, and they’ll come to Columbia April 29-May 1, where Mizzou will likely honor its boatload of seniors. The last time these two teams faced off was 2019, and Mizzou swept the series.
And finally, to wrap up the conference slate, Missouri will head to Alabama to take on SEC Tourney champs, the Crimson Tide (43-11 overall, 19-5 SEC, 3rd place), who the Tigers have not faced since 2019, when they were swept … Let’s hope for a different outcome this time, shall we?
Notably missing from the Tigers’ SEC slate this season are matchups against Auburn (took 2-3 last year, 13th in SEC), LSU (took 2-4, including a win in the SEC Tourney, 6th in SEC), and SEC co-regular season champions, Arkansas (took 2-3 in last year) and Florida (won 1-4, including a loss in the SEC Tourney).
As for the caliber of the competition, we know that the SEC is an absolute gauntlet, and a year ago, half of the 16 regional hosts at the NCAA Tournament were from the SEC. Of the TWELVE SEC teams represented in the tourney last year, the Tigers will face 7 of them: Texas A&M (At-large bid, lost in Norman Regional), Tennessee (#9 seed, lost in Knoxville regional), Mississippi State (At-large bid, lost in Stillwater regional), Georgia (At-large bid, advanced to Gainesville Super, where they beat Florida before losing to OK St and Oklahoma), Alabama (#3 seed, advanced to Tuscaloosa Super, where they beat Kentucky (#14 seed) before losing to eventual national champion, FSU), And Ole Miss (At-large bid, lost in Tuscon regional). WHEW.
With the previous release of the Fall Ball schedule, which starts THIS Saturday, fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the non-con to have a fully formed schedule fleshed out.
With so many seniors — SEVEN to be exact— and EVERY starter returning, it’s going to be a wild, fun, and awesome ride. Can’t wait!