To kick off what hopes to be another incredible season, the Tigers began an extensive tour of the Sunshine State, playing five games in four days in Leesburg, FL (near Orlando) at the Northern Lights Invitational. Mizzou went 3-2 in the tournament with wins over Penn State in extras, Wisconsin, and a ranked (no. 24 at the time) Liberty squad, and losses to UConn and a close one to now no. 8, Virginia Tech, 5-4. On Wednesday, the Tigers headed south to Fort Myers to take on Florida Gulf Coast (more on that in a bit), and shut them out 6-0. Now, the Tigers are BACK in Leesburg for the last time this season,and ready for The Spring Games tourney.
Before we dive deeper (way too deep? you decide) into Mizzou’s next opponents, let’s check in on how the Tigers did in their Wednesday matchup with Florida Gulf Coast. (HINT: It was good).
The Tigers’ first shutout of the year came courtesy of starting pitcher Laurin Krings, with a little help from ace Jordan Weber, who pitched in relief. Krings had a rocky first weekend to start the season (she’s got a 3.41 ERA over 12.1 IP and has allowed 16H and 6 ER), so this was a welcome reprieve, and while the Eagles threatened a couple times, she never allowed a run to cross home, and only gave up 4 hits. When Weber came in to relieve with one out in the bottom of the fifth, Jo proceeded to retire all 8 batters in the remainder of the game.
On the offensive side of things, this was kind of a weird game, as FGCU gave up a lot of walks. The Tigers drew [checks notes] NINE walks on the night, including three to lead off the game, and three from Brooke Wilmes alone, the most in her career. The Tigers showed great plate discipline, which I’m sure was a welcome sight for Coach Larissa Anderson, who mentioned in her media availability last week that this was a major focus this season.
The Tigers plated two runs in the first inning after Hatti Moore reached on a fielder’s choice, which brought home both Jenna Laird (on an error), and Brooke Wilmes. In the second inning, Mizzou scored 2 more runs, this time on a Alex Honnold single, which allowed Wilmes and Laird to score with some super aggressive base running. The Tigers were held scoreless until the top of the seventh, when Kim Wert smashed a two run homer, her first of the season and 45th of her career, and the game was definitively over.
2021 RECORD: 42-17 (ranked #8 nationally)
2022 RECORD: 4-2
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in SEC
RANKING: #17 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #14 (D1 Softball), #17 (Softball America) , #17 (USA Today/NFCA)
2022 TOP PERFORMERS:
- Jenna Laird, SS: .389 BA / 6 R / 7 H / 2 2B / 1 HR / 3 RBI / .667 SLG% / .889 FLD% (11 A, 2 E)
- Kim Wert, 3B: .375 BA / 2 R / 6 H / 1 2B / 1 HR / 5 RBI / .625 SLG% / .778 FLD% (1 A, 2 E
- Alex Honnold, OF: .368 BA / 3 R / 7 H / 2 2B / 1 RBI / .474 SLG% / 1.000 FLD%
- Brooke Wilmes, OF: .333 BA / 3 R / 6 H / 3 RBI / .333 SLG% / 1.000 FLD%
- Jordan Weber, P: 0.91 ERA / 15.1 IP / 2-0 record / 3 H / 2 ER / 8 BB / 18 SO / .070 Opp BA
Let’s take a look at Mizzou’s opponents this weekend, shall we?
WHEN: Friday, February 18 at 10am
2021 RECORD: 31-21 (no. 39 in RPI)
2022 RECORD: 1-4
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 4th in Sun Belt
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Olivia Lackie, P: 2022 No. 5 player in D-1 preseason Sun Belt rankings / 2021 1st Team All-Conference, NFCA 1st Team All-South Region / 2021 stats: 2.34 ERA, 19-10 record, 194 IP, 4 S, 17 CG, 8 shutouts, 84 BB, 250 SO, .191 Opp BA / 2022 stats: 5.65 ERA , 0-1 record, 8.21 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 5 BB, 13 SO, .182 Opp BA
- Allie Hughen, P: 2021 stats: before injury— 4.32 ERA, 4-3 record, 43 SO in 58.1 IP, 2 CG / 2022 stats: 5.25 ERA, 0-1 record, 5.11 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 7 BB, 8 SO, .238 Opp BA
- Jenna Hardy, P: 2021 stats: 4.32 ERA, 4-3 record, 43 SO in 58.1 IP, 2 CG / 2022 stats: 3.50 ERA, 0-2 record, 1 CG, 16 IP, 12 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 9 SO, .262 Opp BA
- Meredith Keel, INF: 2022 No. 10 player in D-1 preseason Sun Belt rankings / 2021 stats: .365 BA, 54 H, 8 2B, 2 3B, 13 RBI, 5 SB, .313 RISP / 2022 stats: .000 BA , 7 AB, 4 K
- Mackenzie Brasher, OF: 2022 No. 15 player in D-1 preseason Sun Belt rankings, Extra Elite 100 College Player Ranking, Preseason All-Conference / 2021 1st Team All-Conference, 3rd Team NFCA All-South Region/ 2021 stats: .357 BA, 50 H, 3 2B, 27 R, 4 RBI, 8 SB2022 stats: .300 BA, 1 R, 3 H
- Caroline Nichols, OF: 2021 stats: .294 BA, 32 H, 3 RBI, 13-13 SB, .446 leadoff avg / 2022 stats: .500 BA, 3 R, 6 H, 1 3B, 1 RBI, .667 SLG%
- The Jags are coming off a close loss against No. 5 Florida State on Wednesday. After falling behind 4-1 early on, they mounted a comeback, scoring 2 runs in the 7th before ultimately falling, 5-4.
- This is a tough-as-nails team, and they are fully capable of taking down any ranked opponent. Just ask 2021 opponents Alabama, who was held to a three-hit shutout at home, or Georgia, who lost to them early in the season last year, or Baylor, who lost to them in the NCAA Tournament. Or even Florida State, who had issues with them this week, though they ultimately came away with a win.
- According to the D-1 Softball Fall Preview, there is hope Olivia Lackie can be g-o-o-d. As a freshman, she threw a shutout against Alabama AT Alabama, and nearly HALF of her outs were on strikeouts. From Coach Clark, on her ace: “Her ability to get swing and misses, coupled by her competitive mentality... When she steps on the field it’s all business. She expects to win. She makes the people around her better.”
- Lackie will be backed on the mound by Allie Hughen, who missed the last 20 games of the 2021 season, including the postseason, with an ACL injury.
- South Alabama was one of four Sun Belt teams to make the NCAA Tournament last season. They beat 2-seed Baylor in the their first game, before getting blown out by 1-seed Florida then losing to South Florida in the loser’s bracket.
- In the offseason, the Jags added JuCo transfer and power hitter, Odalys Cordova, who was a NJCAA Region 8 1st Team All-American. She had a .480 BA with a .533 OBP, and 1.006 SLG% to go with 20 HR, 20 2B,5 3B, 100 RBI, and was 24-25 SBA.
- Head Coach Becky Clark has been at the helm since the program’s inception, and is excited about this season, saying: “Everyone on our roster can compete. Everyone on our roster legitimately pushes the people around them….That’s a great place to be as a program. All 24 (players) add value to what we’re doing.”
WHEN: Friday, February 18 at 12:30pm
2021 RECORD: 14-26
2022 RECORD: 4-1
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 9th in ACC
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Taylor Greene, C: 2021 stats: .261 BA, .840 OPS, 6 R, 23 H, 6 2B, 4 HR, 21 RBI, .466 SLG% / 2022 stats: .429 BA, 6 RBI, 6 H, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 R, .643 SLG%, .471 OB%
- Sara Jubas, SS: 2022 D1 Softball Preseason No. 8 ranked player in ACC / 2021 VaSID All-State First Team, All-CAA Second Team, CAA All-Tournament Team / 2021 stats: 2022 stats: .375 BA, 3 RBI, 6 H, 2 2B, 3 R, .500 SLG%, .412 OB%
- Kianna Jones, P/UTIL: 2022 stats: .357 BA, 5 RBI, 3 R, 5 H, 2 HR, .786 SLG%, transfer from Minnesota (doesn’t appear she played)
- Hannah George, P: 2021 stats: 5.28 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 2-3 record, 2 CG, 30.2 IP, 27 H, 18 ER, 7 BB, 17 SO, .233 Opp BA / 2022 stats: 0.00 ERA, 2-0 record, 1.13 WHIP, 1 CG, 13.1 IP, 9 H, 0 ER, 8 SO, .188 Opp BA
- Carolina (the true Carolina, South Carolina is NOT “Carolina,” y’all) is off to an extraordinary start this season, and for the first time since 2012, the Tarheels started their season 4-0 with wins over George Washington, Lipscomb, Virginia, and at South Carolina. They hit .359 as a TEAM over that series, so they are very capable of doing a lot of damage. The Heels did, however, finally falter on Wednesday night, losing to Elon (4-0, proj. 3rd in CAA), 4-3.
- The Tarheels are coming off a ROUGH season, where they finished 14-26, the second fewest wins in program history since 1977 (their inaugural season). The conference was better last year, and they were bit by the injury bug, but they need a BIG bounceback season after seeing their roster depleted in the offseason. The good news? Their infield seems already set, according to Coach Dana Papa.
- According to the D1 Softball Fall Report, over 75% of UNC’s innings from last year departed this offseason, including ace Brittany Pickett, who graduated. No returning pitcher has more than 35 IP under their belts, or an ERA lower than 4.11. Watch for 3-time Region Pitcher of the Year and 3-time First team All-State pitcher Lilli Backes, as well as Talia Hannappel, a transfer from New Mexico, in the circle.
- The Heels’ big offseason addition was former JMU star (and a name that should strike fear in the hearts of Mizzou fans), Sara Jubas. I personally don’t understand why she’d want to make the move, as UNC seems like a step down, and because JMU is - quite frankly - really damn good. From Coach Papa, on the addition: “We’re extremely excited about adding Sara to our roster and her playing her final season in a Carolina uniform,” Papa said in a release from the school. “Her collegiate softball resume speaks for itself. The experience playing for JMU and her appearance in the 2021 WCWS will have an immediate positive impact on our roster and help us compete for championships this spring.”
- Coach Dana Papa is in her 36th season at UNC, where she has amassed a 1,290-749-5 (.632) record. She is a 5-time ACC Coach of the Year (1996, 1998, 2000, 2008, 2012), and was inducted into the NFCA Hall of Fame in 2012.
WHEN: Saturday, February 19 at 10am
2021 RECORD: season canceled due to Covid
2022 RECORD: 1-3
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in SWAC Eastern Division
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Haley Parks, OF: 2022 stats: .375 BA, .875 OPS, 2 R, 3 H, .375 SLG% / 2020 stats: .310 BA in 87 AB, .671 OPS, 14 R, 27 H, 3 2B, 3 RBI
- Joslynn Davis, OF/UTIL: .273 BA, .658 OPS, 3 H
- Hannah Ortega, P: 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 1-1 record, 2 CG, 14.0 IP, 13 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO, .255 Opp BA
- Bethune-Cookman returns to action after Covid-19 suspended their play in 2020 and cancelled their season in 2021. They started off their season with a tough schedule, facing Big Ten teams Ohio State, Indiana, and Louisville, as well as Northern Illinois.
- Ortega got the win on Friday vs Northern Illinois, and then pitched the next day as well, allowing only 7 hits, no walks, and had 2 strikeouts. Against Indiana, the Wildcats battled late, loading the bases in both the 6th and 7th innings, but had to settle for only 1 run in the 7th.
- From Coach Watten, on how much she likes this year’s squad: “This is one of the hardest working teams I’ve ever had. I know they’ll bounce from any challenge. The thing about this young team is they fight, battle and work extremely hard. I can trust that they’re very resilient, eager and hungry and excited. It’s going to be exciting to see how they grow.”
- The last time B-CU made the NCAA tourney was 2005, when they became the first HBCU to make it to the Super Regionals.
WHEN: Saturday, February 19 at 12:30pm
2021 RECORD: 12-35
2022 RECORD: 1-3
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 12th (last) in C-USA
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Sara Berthiaume, INF: 2021 stats: .268 BA , .734 OPS, 13 R, 34 H, 9 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI, .422 SLG%, only 2 E in 63 chances/ HS: one of two players in state of FL to win 5 state championships / 2022 stats: .500 BA, 1.083 OPS, 2 R, 6 H, 1 2B, 1 RBI, .583 SLG%,
- Lynn Gardner, P: 2021 hitting stats: .256 BA in 39 PA, 3 R, 10 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .436 SLG% / 2022 hitting stats: .429 BA, 1.556 OPS, 1 R, 3 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1.000 SLG% / 2021 pitching stats: 3.87 ERA, 153.2 IP, 1.39 WHIP, 7-15 record, 15 CG, 2 saves, 168 H, 85 ER, 46 BB, 89 SO, .282 Opp BA, 89:46 SO/BB ratio / 2022 pitching stats: 3.39 ERA, 10.1 IP, 1.26 WHIP, 0-1 record, 1 CG, 9 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 12 SO, .231 Opp BA
- Kaitlyn Cunningham, OF: 2021 All-C-USA Freshman team / 2021 stats: .289 BA (2nd on team) in 135 PA (team-high), ranked among top 20 nationally in 3B (5), with 5 2B, 5 3B 18 R, 1 HR, 9 RBI. The five triples ranked her 15th in the nation / 2022 stats: .182 BA, 2 R, 2 H, .182 SLG%
- Zoey Jones, INF: 2021 stats: .243 BA, 10 R, 27 H, 5 2B, 4 HR (2nd on team), 13 RBI, .396 SLG%, team-high FLD% at .982, part of 16 DP (led conference) / 2022 stats: .333 BA, 3 H, 1 RBI, .333 SLG%,
- The Owls opened their season at home, going 1-3 with a doubleheader against Louisville (both losses), a loss to Indiana, and a 4-3 win over Northern Illinois. Their final two games, against Ohio State and Bethune-Cookman, were canceled due to weather.
- Despite losing Game 1 to Louisville, Lynn Gardner had a strong start with a complete game, and allowed only one earned run and two total runs. She struck out 7, walked 2, and only allowed 4 hits (one extra base hit). She was also a big help offsensively in Game 2 of the double-header, hitting a 3-run shot, as well as a two-out RBI single.
- Outfielder Sara Berthiaume is also off to a hot start, with 2 hits in Game 1 and was 4-4 in Game 2 with an RBI and 2 runs scored.
- Pitcher Lynn Gardner, the team’s workhouse, is also one of the Owls’ best hitters, often hitting in the middle of order. Pitching-wise, she tossed nearly 100 IP more than any other pitcher on the team in 2021. Last season was her first full season with FAU, as the 2020 season was shortened due to Covid, and she transfered in from Mercer the year prior.
- Kaitlyn Cunningham, who won C-USA All-Freshman team honors a year ago, is off to a rough start. Expect her to start to improve her stats immediately.
- Coach Joan Joyce is in her 28th season leading the Owls, and is 15 victories away from 1,000 in her career. According to the FAU site, Joyce would become just the 25th coach in NCAA Division I history to join the 1000 club, and the 41st coach across all NCAA divisions. Her record is 985-647-1 with 12 conference championships, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and 8 conference COY honors.
WHEN: Sunday, February 20 at 10:30am
2021 RECORD: 19-25 (conference only)
2022 RECORD: 2-2
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 9th in Big Ten (D1 Softball poll)
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Jaeda McFarland, OF: 2022 D1 Softball No. 8 ranked player in Big 10 / 2021 Big Ten Freshman of the Year, Second Team All-Big 10, All-Defensive team / 2021 stats: .324 BA, 24 R, 46 H, 5 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 19 RBI, .479 SLG%, 13-15 SB.990 FLD% (1 E, 4 A, 93 PO) / 2022 stats: .067 BA (15 AB), 1 R, 1 H, 1 RBI, 2 K
- Taylor Okada, INF: 2021 Second-team All-Big Ten / 2021 stats: .338 BA (team-high, 7th in Big 10), 9 R, 44 H, 5 2B, 3 3B, 8 RBI, .408 SLG%, only 9 K, 7-8 SB / 2022 stats: .417 BA, 5 H, 1 RB, .417 SLG%, 2-2 SB
- Trinity Schlotterbeck, P: 2021 stats: 2.88 ERA, 16 starts, 92.1 IP, 4 CG (incl 2 in extra innings) 8-5 record, 33 BB, 36 SO, / 2022 pitching stats: 2.03 ERA, 1-2 record, 0.87 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO, .222 Opp BA / 2022 hitting stats: .400 BA, 1.100 OPS, 4 R, 4 H, 2 2B, 3 RB, .600 SLG%
- Mackense Greico, P/UTIL: 2021 First Team All-Southern Conference / 2021 stats (at Furman): .362 BA, 47 H, 12 2B, 9 HR, 36 RBI / 2022 stats: .250 BA, 2 R, 1 H, .571 OB%
- Maryland is no stranger to beating ranked teams, taking down No. 24 Minnesota in February, along with a comeback win over No. 22 Northwestern (the first-place team in the conference) in early April.
- The Terps started the 2022 season with a 2-2 record, with wins over FIU and UNC-Greensboro, and losses to No. 18 Tennessee and UNC-G. (Sunday’s second matchup with the Vols was canceled due to weather.) In the FIU win, 8 Terps had an RBI, and they piled on four runs in both the first and third innings. Courtney Wyche earned the victory, pitching 5 innings and striking out 5. Rookie Amelia Lech collected her first two hits and scored 2 runs in the blowout, and is currently holding down the cleanup spot.
- According to D1 Softball’s fall report, Coach Mark Montgomery (3rd season) is optimistic the team will improve upon last season’s results with the addition of several key transfers and some impact freshmen. The Terps kept games close last season, reaching extra innings in six contests.
- They relied heavily on speed and ability to manufacture runs last season, finishing in the top-3 in the conference in defensive percentage while recording its highest SB% (80%) in recent years. They’re hoping to add some power to the mix with the additions of Purdue’s Kiley Goff (20 R, 33 H, 1 HR, 2 3B, 4 SB, 17 BB) and Furman’s Mackense Greico.
- In Fall Ball, the Terps played SIX 10-inning (!) games, outscoring their opponents 60-6 during that stretch. Megan Mikami batted .400 during the preseason stretch.
- Pitcher Jennifer Brann is gone, who led the team in SO (64), but the Terps do return two other starters though in Courtney Wyche and Trinity Schlotterbeck, the latter of whom was sidelined later in the year due to injury and used sparingly. Wyche (2.13 ERA, 46 SO, 7 CG), on the other hand, is a flame-thrower, regularly hitting 72-73mph on the gun. She picked up big wins last season against ranked Northwestern and Ohio State.
Stay up to date with all our softball content by following me, @KarenSteger, and @RockMNation. I’ll have previews for each of Missouri’s series, as well as recaps when available (I’m not currently a FloSoftball subscriber, so recapping these early games may prove difficult).