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MIZZOU SOFTBALL PREVIEW: Tennessee comes to town for top-25 match up /GAME THREAD

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Tigers welcome Lady Vols to blustery CoMo in matchup of Super Regional teams

Mizzou Athletics

When we last checked in on the Missouri softball team, they were decimating both St. Thomas and Bradley in the home opening Mizzou Tournament last week, outscoring them 42-3 in four games. It was [wipes tear] beautiful. I’m sure their opponents didn’t exactly feel the same, but the rest of us sure as hell had fun.

As I mentioned in my recaps, of which you can still still read here (Friday)... and here (Sat-Sun)... the Tigers were a lot to handle.

OFFENSE: 48 HITS. 10 DOUBLES. 2 TRIPLES. 14 HOME RUNS. 42 RUNS. 8 WALKS. 4 RUN-RULED GAMES.

PITCHING: 33 STRIKEOUTS. 3 WALKS. 3 EARNED RUNS. 22 INNINGS PITCHED.

The Tigers’ explosion got the notice of D1 Softball, who made sure to mention them in their SEC Roundup for Week 4:

Missouri’s offense keeps chugging. Over the weekend, Mizzou super senior Kim Wert moved into a tie for second place in program history with her 46th home run. Wert is one away from tying the record of 47 held by Jen Bruck (2005-08).

Wert and her teammates had a stat-stuffing weekend of deep fly fun in sweeping Bradley and St. Thomas. The Tigers hit 14 home runs over four games, and nine different players homered. They batted a collective .475. Laurin Krings capped it off by throwing a six-inning perfect game with 12 strikeouts against Bradley.

This weekend marks the first time this season Missouri only has to prepare for a single opponent, as they’ve faced 4-5 opponents every other time out (exception: FGCU a few weeks ago).

This, according to head coach Larissa Anderson, will be a welcome occurrence for the Tigers’ players and staff, who have a much easier time scouting and preparing for a singular opponent.

“It makes it a little bit more single-focused throughout the week that we can solely focus on Tennessee,” Anderson said in a postgame presser this past weekend. “We can really zero into the pitchers that they have on their staff and really simulate that the entire week of practice by changing how the pitching machine is throwing to us.”

The Missouri—Tennessee matchup is one of several SEC series scheduled this weekend, as South Carolina hosts Georgia, Auburn hosts Texas A&M, LSU hosts Alabama, and Florida hosts Mississippi State.

These two programs last faced off in Knoxville for the regular season final series of 2021. The Tigers took the final two games after the Lady Vols won on Friday night. Tennessee may lead the all-time series 10-7, but the Tigers are 3-3 against UT with Larissa Anderson at the helm.

The Tigers have prepared for this matchup no different than any other, and they are ready to face the toughest competition. After the Sunday finale, Coach Anderson said she’s constantly evaluating the team against the best, asking herself, “Can they play against the best? Can they compete in the College World Series?”

Because of this mentality, they don’t change their approach, she said. “We measure ourselves against ourselves... We know we have to be very disciplined, we can’t make a lot of mistakes, because we know Tennessee (or any other team we face) is going to capitalize on them.”

M-I-Z!

2021 RECORD: 42-17 (ranked #8 nationally)

2022 RECORD: 16-4

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in SEC

RANKING: #8 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #10 (D1 Softball), #11 (Softball America), #14 (NFCA)

2022 TOP PERFORMERS:

  • Casidy Chaumont, OF: .450 BA / 13 R / 18 H/ 4 2B / 1 3B / 3 HR / 13 RBI / .825 SLG% / .463 OB%
  • Kim Wert, 3B/OF: .364 BA / 13 R / 20 H / 4 2B / 7 HR / 23 RBI / .818 SLG% / .446 OB%
  • Brooke Wilmes, OF: .355 BA / 15 R / 22 H / 1 2B / 1 3B / 5 HR / 14 RBI / .645 SLG% / .459 OB%
  • Jenna Laird, SS: .344 BA / 15 R / 22 H / 3 2B / 1 3B / 1 HR / 6 RBI / .469 SLG% / .403 OB% /10-11 SB
  • Kara Daly, 3B: .327 BA / 6 R / 16 H / 1 2B / 5 HR / 13 RBI / .653 SLG% / .389 OB%
  • Jordan Weber, P: 1.46 ERA / 48 IP / 5-0 / 2 CG / 19 H / 10 ER / 19 BB / 47 SO / .123 Opp BA
  • Laurin Krings, P: 2.27 ERA / 49.1 IP / 7-2 record / 5 CG / 38 H / 16 ER / 14 BB / 73 SO / .211 Opp BA

NOTES:

  • Kara Daly is having a MONSTER first season, hitting a home run in every game over the weekend. In one of the postgame pressers this weekend, Daly mentioned how much Kim Wert has helped her, even as she’s taking over at third and KW is moving to the OF. The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week is quickly becoming an everyday starter due to her can’t-miss production, and it’s really cool to see.
  • Laurin Krings had a phenomenal weekend, striking out 26 of the 40 batters she faced over the weekend. She tied her career-high of 14 K one game, and silenced 12 in her perfect game Sunday. Coach Anderson made a point of saying 1) how proud she is of Specs’ maturity this season, and 2) she is showing command of a variety of pitches, including a devastating change up, and showcasing great control and ball movement.
  • Coach Anderson (as well as Kendyll Bailey in the locker room) commended the bench players’ effort. They’re coming in and contributing right away, they said, and it’s really noticeable how hard the players are working to contribute. “They come in and we don’t miss a beat,” Anderson said. “We have the same intensity, we have the same level of focus, and the same pressure that’s going on. It just really shows you the depth that we have and it allows me to manage the game at a different level because I’m able to be very strategic in who I put in and put them in the best possible situation.”
  • As the Tigers get set to go against top-of-the-line pitching the next few weekends, Anderson stressed the importance of getting “on time” with at-bats earlier. She’s looking for faster adjustments. and hard-hit contact early on, not after they’ve been through the order twice. Why? Because every time a team switches pitchers (this fooled them against Maryland, remember?), Missouri can’t be taking too long to adjust. They need to get going immediately.

Let’s go in-depth on Mizzou’s first SEC opponent this weekend, shall we? And GUESS WHAT? WE CAN WATCH ACTUALLY WATCH EM PLAY! No more FloSoftball... for now anyway.

Andrew Ferguson / Tennessee Athletics

WHEN: Sunday, 3/13 at 11am, 1:30pm (or 30 mins after conclusion of G1)

TV/STREAMING: Sunday Game One— SEC Network, Game Two— SEC+

2021 RECORD: 42-15

2022 RECORD: 16-6

RANKINGS: #18(ESPN.com/USA Softball), #16 (D1 Softball), #18 (Softball America), #18 (NFCA)

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 4th in SEC

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

  • Kiki Milloy, OF: 2022 Preseason All-SEC, D1 Softball Preseason First Team All-American, USA Softball National POY Watch List / 2022 stats: .368 BA, 25 R, 25 H, 3 2B, 9 HR, 22 RBI, .809 SLG%, .506 OB%, 13-14 SB / / 2021 stats: .360 BA, 50 R, 59 H, 3 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 36 RBI, .652 SLG%, .451 OB%, 37-40 SB

Accolades: 2022 Preseason All-SEC, D1 Softball Preseason First Team All-American, USA Softball National POY Watch List / 2021 NFCA Second Team All-America, NFCA First Team All-Southeast Region, All-SEC First Team, SEC All-Newcomer Team

  • Rylie West, C/OF: 2022 stats: .333 BA, 10 R, 13 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, .692 SLG%, .422 OB% / 2021 stats: .326 BA, 13 R, 30 H, 11 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 13 RBI, .543 SLG%, .451 OB%, 2-3 SB
  • Amanda Ayala, OF: / 2022 stats: .343 BA, 14 R, 24 H, 6 2B, 2 2B, 2 HR, 20 RBI, .571 SLG%, .420 OB% / 2021 stats: .368 BA, 37 R, 57 H, 11 2B, 3 3B, 9 HR, 32 RBI, .652 SLG%, .427 OB%, 11-11 SB

Accolades: 2022 Ranked no. 59 in Extra Inning Softball’s Elite 100 / 2021 NFCA All-Southeast Region Second Team

  • Kaitlin Parsons, OF: 2022 stats: .342 BA, 13 R, 13 H, 1 2B, 1 HR, 20 RBI, .571 SLG%, .420 OB% / 2021 stats: .289 BA, 23 R, 22 H, 5 RBI, .289 SLG%, .413 OB%
  • Ashley Rogers, P: 2022 stats: 1.99 ERA, 3-3 record, 2 CG, 38.2 IP, 20 H, 11 ER, 11 BB, 50 SO, 6 HR, 8 XBH, .152 Opp BA / / 2021 stats : 1.32 ERA, 26-10 record, 25 CG, 217.1 IP, 99 H, 41 ER, 50 BB, 296 SO, 20 HR, .132 Opp BA

Accolades: 2022 D1 Softball No. 6 Ranked Pitcher, D1 Softball Preseason Second Team All-American, Preseason All-SEC, USA Softball National POY Watch List, no. 15 in Softball America Preseason Top 100, no. 17 in Extra Inning Softball Elite 100 / 2021 All-SEC First Team, NFCA All-Southeaster Region First Team

  • Erin Edmoundson, P: 2022 stats: 1.15 ERA, 9-1 record, 3 CG, 2 SHO, 60.2 IP, 38 H, 10 ER, 19 BB, 52 SO, 11 HBP, 4 HR, 7 XBH, .177 Opp BA / 2021 stats (with Texas Tech): 5.86 ERA, 7-11 record, 8 CG, 1 SV, 121.1 IP, 123 H, 83 R, 79 ER, 45 BB, 128 SO, .262 Opp BA

Accolades: 2022 Softball America Preseason No. 68 player / 2021 and 2020 Academic All-Big XII First Team / 2020 Softball America Second Team All-America / 2019 NFCA All-Central Region Second Team

NOTES:

  • The Lady Vols are coming off a 7-0 homestand with wins over Tennessee Tech (W 11-1), Dartmouth (W 8-0, W 7-1), Virginia (W 7-5, W 5-0), South Alabama (W 9-0), and Austin Peay (W 9-1, 5 inn).
  • The Tigers should be fully aware of Tennessee’s power numbers because they, like Mizzou, really dig the long ball. In Wednesday’s game against Austin Peay, the Lady Vols secured the win in the 5th with a 2-run HR by DP Madison Webber, and hit three dingers in the final two innings. They hit seven HR this past weekend alone, and as of March 8, they have 33 HR in their first 22 games.
  • Freshman DP McKenna Gibson is H-O-T, hitting .455 with 2 HR and 6 RBI, to go along with a 1.691 OPS in the last homestand.
  • Tennessee is one of two SEC schools with two pitchers ranked in the Top 10 in strikeouts. Edmoundson is ranked 8th with 52 K and Rogers is 9th with 50 K.
  • The Lady Vols are base robbers. Along with those listed above in the notable players, the team is 39-43 on stolen base attempts this season. Their 1.86 steals per game is third in the SEC and 24th in the United States.
  • Key Losses: Senior C Ally Shipman to Alabama, Junior P Callie Turner to Arkansas (10-3 in 2021 with 2.28 EA, including a no-no against Lamar).
  • Key Additions: graduate P Erin Edmoundson from Texas Tech (~600 IP, 3.07 ERA, 517 K in four seasons) and graduate C Kelcy Leach, also from Texas Tech. Leach is the younger sister of former OF standout Aubrey (now a grad asst). She started more than 100 games for the Red Raiders, and while she struggled to provide consistent production at plate, she definitely has power (20 HR in 336 PA).
  • Tennessee has been careful with ace Ashley Rogers so far this season, who was unstoppable in the SEC Tournament last season (16 IP, 2 ER, 25 K). The senior has played sparingly this season, throwing only 1.1 innings in the last six games. In her place is Texas Tech grad transfer, Erin Edmoundson, who has thrown 60% of the Lady Vols’ innings this season. While Edmoundson (stats above) is holding batters to a minuscule .177 BA and has a 1.15 ERA, she does have some control issues, having hit 11 batters this season (ouch) and walked 19. Aggressive plate discipline will be key for the Tigers this weekend.

SEC COMPARISONS:

SEC Offensive Comparisons as of March 8
UTSports.com
SEC Pitching Comparisons as of March 8
UTSports.com

UPDATE: March 11, 10:06am

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The series opener between No. 14/8 University of Missouri softball (16-4) and No. 18 Tennessee (16-6), scheduled for 2 p.m. on Friday has been postponed due to snow. Friday’s game will be played as a doubleheader at a date and time TBD. Saturday and Sunday’s games remain as scheduled at this time.

UPDATE: March 11, 2:01pm

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Due to winter weather conditions on Friday and Saturday, No. 14/8 University of Missouri softball’s opening series with No. 18 Tennessee will now be a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday, March 13. The second game will follow 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

As always, stay up to date on all things Mizzou Softball this season by following me, @KarenSteger, and @RockMNation. I’ll have previews for each of Missouri’s series, as well as recaps when available. When I’m at the ballpark, I’ll also be firing off some tweets from both accounts.