clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

MIZZOU SOFTBALL PREVIEW: It’s Home Opener Weekend! / Game Thread

New, comments

The Tigers have traveled to both coasts and are now back in unseasonably warm - and hopefully dry - CoMo for their four game set against St. Thomas and Bradley in the Mizzou Classic.

Mizzou Athletics

When we last saw the Tiger softball team in action — or in this case, read about them (again, nobody’s paying for FloSoftball), they lost a hard-fought battle to no. 6 UCLA to wrap up their Cali finale on Sunday afternoon.

Tiger pitcher Laurin Krings who, for all intents and purposes, was been SUPERB the last two weekends, struggled immediately in the game, giving up six earned runs on seven hits, including a grand slam which put the Tigers in an early hole. She only lasted one complete inning and faced two batters in the second before Jordan Weber, who had struggled herself a bit the night before, came in and shut down the offensive onslaught after an initial scare. Weber allowed a double that brought home her inherited runners, but after that it was smooth sailing.

People on the internet said the game was all but over, claiming the Tigers would be done early in a run-rule kind of situation (like they’d just bestowed upon Washington), but true Missouri fans should have known better. How many comebacks have we seen from this team this season alone? The Tigers launched — and I mean LAUNCHED — a fierce comeback, led by four solo shots by Kim Wert in the 4th inning, Gabi Deters and Casidy Chaumont in the fifth, and Kendyll Bailey in the sixth (her third in consecutive days). Also in the sixth, Vanessa Hollingsworth showed off her offense, lacing a single to center which scored Alex Honnold. While the Tigers ultimately couldn’t complete the comeback, losing 7-5, they did put up a valiant fight.

This was Missouri’s only loss in what was otherwise a pretty perfect weekend of softball, as they were 4-0 in their other match ups on Friday and Saturday, with ranked wins over then-no. 12 Oregon on Friday, just-out-of-the-top-25 San Diego State on Saturday and then-no. 5 Washington to round out the day. You can check out my recap from the first four games here. As expected, I was super psyched to do the write-up.

When Coach Anderson met with the media before the season opener, she talked about the blue collar approach of the team, which I think has been evident in the Tigers’ performance thus far.

“We are blue collar mentality team. We will always be that as long as I’m the head coach here… I understand the opportunity to play in the SEC, but they have to earn it. They have to respect the opportunity and the appreciate the opportunity. So that’s that blue collar mentality that we always will instill,” Anderson said.

With the Tigers facing lesser competition this weekend compared to the murderer’s row at Mary Nutter, it remains super important to stay focused and ready. Don’t expect this Tigers team to take it easy or take their opportunities for granted. I’m particularly interested in seeing Anderson’s “outwork everyone” approach in person this weekend.

“We will outwork everybody. It doesn’t matter who we’re facing in the field. We are going to outwork them, we’ve worked harder than them, we’re more prepared than them. So when they start to believe in that work ethic, now they can just go out in the field and truly believe that they will do better than them,” Anderson said.

BRING IT ON. I would run through a wall for Coach Anderson, wouldn’t you?

Now the Tigers are back in unseasonably warm CoMo — let’s hope they aren’t rained out — in front of what I hope will be a packed Mizzou Softball Stadium for the Mizzou Classic. Lest we forget, the stadium was voted the 2021 Netting Professionals/NFCA Field of the Year. it’s a really great set-up, and I highly recommend taking in a game (or many) there this season.

During the 2021 postseason, Missouri set a new attendance record in each game of the 2021 NCAA Columbia Regional and Super Regional. The last time the Tigers played at home, it was in front of a sold-out crowd of 2,686. These kinds of things matter to a team, and I can’t wait to take it all in (from the press box)!

M-I-Z!

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

2022 RECORD: 12-4

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in SEC

RANKING: #8 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #12 (D1 Softball), #12 (Softball America), #15 (ESPN.com/NFCA)

2022 TOP PERFORMERS:

  • Jenna Laird, SS: .352 BA / 11 R / 19 H / 2 2B / 1 HR / 6 RBI / .444 SLG% / .400 OB% /8-9 SB
  • Casidy Chaumont, OF: .367 BA / 9 R / 11 H/ 1 2B / 1 3B / 2 HR / 4 RBI / .667 SLG% / .387 OB%
  • Kim Wert, 3B: .348 BA / 10 R / 16 H / 3 2B / 6 HR / 17 RBI / .804 SLG% / .426 OB%
  • Brooke Wilmes, OF: .294 BA / 9 R / 15 H / 1 2B / 1 3B / 2 HR / 8 RBI / .471 SLG% / .410 OB%
  • Kendyll Bailey, INF: .304 BA / 3 R / 14 H / 1 2B / 3 HR / 8 RBI / .522 SLG% / .400 OB%
  • Jordan Weber, P: 1.59 ERA / 44 IP / 4-0 / 2 CG / 19 H / 10 ER / 19 BB / 42 SO / .134 Opp BA
  • Laurin Krings, P: 2.81 ERA / 37.1 IP / 5-2 record / 3 CG / 35 H / 15 ER / 13 BB / 47 SO / .248 Opp BA

NOTES:

  • Tiger relievers Emma Nichols (1-1) and Megan Schumacher (2-1) are also off to good starts so far this season, and have put together some really nice innings in relief. Nichols has only allowed 5 runs (1 earned), a single XBH, and is holding batters to a .234 Opp BA in 11.1 IP, while Schumacher has allowed 7 runs (4 earned) in her 15.1 IP. Both have sub-2.00 ERAs (0.60 and 1.83, respectively) in their 6 appearances, and have struck out 12 apiece with miniscule walks.
  • Of the freshmen, Vanessa Hollingsworth is off to the best start, sporting a .429 BA to go along with 3 hits, 4 RBI, and a run in limited ABs. We’ve also seen Kara Daly receive a good amount of time thus far. The Jeff City native has 9 hits, a home run, and 4 RBI in her 38 at-bats.
  • When Gabi Deters launched her first hit of the season, a solo shot in the sixth inning against UCLA, MUTigers.com said it had been 720 days since her last collegiate hit and 721 days since her last collegiate home run). Deters sat out the 2021 season after transferring from Kentucky.

Let’s take a look at Mizzou’s opponents this weekend, shall we?

Tommiesports.com

WHEN: Friday, March 4 at 4pm / Saturday, March 5 at 12:30pm

TV/STREAMING: none, live stats at StatBroadcast.com

2021 RECORD: 33-10 in Division III

2022 RECORD:2-8

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 8th (last) in Summit League

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

  • Freshman Brooke Ellestad, SS: 2022 stats: .469 BA, 10 R, 15 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, .688 SLG%
  • Kaitlyn Raymond, OF: 2022 stats: .400 BA, 4 R, 10 H, 4 RBI, .400 SLG%
  • Sarah Hudson, INF: 2022 stats: .345 BA, 4 R, 10 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, .586 SLG% / 2021 stats: .345 BA, 4 R, 10 H, 4 RBI, .400 SLG%, .394 OB%. transfer from Buffalo?
  • Isabelle True, P: 2022 stats: 3.42 ERA, 0-2 record, 1 CG, 14.1 IP, 19 H, 13 R, 7 ER, 14 BB, 6 SO, .317 Opp BA / 2021 stats (Kirkland Community College): 3-2 record, 3 CG, 19 SO in 24 IP.

NOTES:

  • Based in St. Paul, Minn., the University of St. Thomas is the first program in history to transition from D-III to D-I. The Tommies are two-time D-III National Champions, have been to eight D-III WCWS, and have appeared in the tourney 28 times in their illustrious history.
  • The Tommies’ jump to D-I isn’t going all that smooth, however, as they have surrendered at least five runs in each game this season. They are currently only a 8-game losing streak after starting the season with wins over Ball State ( W 6-5) and Eastern Illinois (W 12-9). Since then, they’ve lost seven straight to Butler (L 0-7), DePaul (L 3-8), Seattle (L 2-5), LA Tech (L 2-10), No. 20 Louisiana (L 0-10), Nicholls State (L 3-5), Northwestern State (L 3-5), and Southeastern Louisiana (L 0-8). This also includes being run-ruled three of their five games last weekend in the Mardi Gras Mambo.
  • Mizzou will be just the second ranked opponent the Tommies have faced. Over the weekend, they faced No. 20 Louisiana and were run-ruled in 5 innings.
  • Brooke Ellestad and Kaitlyn Raymond (stats above) are the top two batters in the Tommies’ lineup, and also the top two performers at the plate so far this season. Elllestad leads St. Thomas in pretty much all statistical categories, while Raymond is reaching base at a .464 clip.
  • From my research, it appears that the Tommies don’t really have a true “ace” on their staff, and instead prefer to spread out the innings-load amongst four different pitchers: junior Isabelle True, senior Kendall Hopkins, senior Megan Baniecke, and freshman Christina Crawford. Each has pitched between 12-19 IP, and have ERAs ranging from 3.42 (True) to 9 (Baniecke and Crawford).
  • Megan Baniecke, who was one of the Tommies’ top performers last year (.388 BA, 15 R, 40 H, 5 HR, 27 RBI, .602 SLG%), is off to a rough start this season, batting only .056 with a single hit. And while she earned the team’s first victory at the D-I level with a 5 strikeout performance against Ball State to open the season, she’s subject to giving up extra base hits, and has allowed 4 home runs and 7 doubles in her 5 appearances.
  • This is head coach Jennifer Trotter’s first season at the helm, coming in from Missouri Western where she had 676 career wins and a 676-404 record. She’s now just 22 wins away from 700 career victories. Here’s hoping she gets them by the end of the season (just none against the Tigers).

Bradley Braves Athletics

WHEN: Saturday, March 5 at 10am / Sunday, March 6 at 12:30pm

TV/STREAMING: none on Saturday / SEC+ on Sunday

2021 RECORD: 20-22

2022 RECORD: 7-7

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 7th in Missouri Valley

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

  • Samantha Smith, OF/C: 2022 stats: .400 BA, 15 R, 18 H, 5 2B, 2 HR, 10 RBI, .644 SLG%, .404 OB% / 2021 stats: .194 BA, 7 R, 14 H, 3 2B, 9 RBI, .236 SLG%
  • Abbott Badgley, P/UTIL: 2022 batting stats: .348 BA, 4 R, 8 H, 2 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, .565 SLG% / 2022 pitching stats: 4.05 ERA, 5-4 record, 19 IP, 25 H, 15 R, 11 ER, 11 BB, 10 SO
  • Camryn Monteer, INF/UTIL: 2022 stats: .326 BA, 11 R, 14 H, 1 2B, 3 RB, .349 SLG% / 2021 stats: .342 BA, 26 R, 41 H, 4 2B, 2 3B, 11 RBI, .408 SLG%, .436 OB%
  • Grace French, P: 2022 stats: 3.54 ERA, 1-3 record, 3 CG, 27.2 IP, 32 H, 18 R, 14 ER, 7 BB, 18 SO, .278 Opp BA / 2021 stats: 4.65 ERA, 8-6 record, 6 CG, 78.1 IP, 98 H, 61 R, 52 ER, 38 BB, 47 SO, .300 Opp BA
  • Raegan Branon, P: 2022 stats: 2.25 ERA, 2-1 record, 2 CG, 18.2 IP, 22 H, 14 R, 6 ER, 14 BB, 10 SO, .301 Opp BA / 2021 stats: 4.76 ERA, 1-3 record, 39.2 IP, 41 H, 31 R, 27 ER, 22 BB, 21 SO, .277 Opp BA

NOTES:

  • While Bradley started slow, going 1-4 with a single win over Northern Colorado and losses to kU (8-13), Northern Colorado (1-10 in five innings), and Grand Canyon (0-5), they’ve also split series with Miami-Ohio (8-7 and 0-2, respectively) and Northern Colorado (6-3 and 1-10, respectively). The Braves also hold wins over IUPUI (7-1) and Syracuse (6-2), and a loss over Louisiana-Monroe (2-3).
  • This will be the Braves’ second ranked matchup after losing 2-1 to then-no. 21 Auburn on Saturday. In that game, pitcher Grace French limited the Tigers - hitting .346 as a team coming in - to just six hits. Bradley had a chance in the seventh inning to rally, but fell short in a pitcher’s duel. According to the game notes, the Braves join no. 3 UCLA as the only teams to hold Auburn to two or fewer runs this season.
  • Bradley has scored at least 7 runs in six of their games, and only been held to 2 runs or fewer in five of them. They have three 5-inning run-ruled games on the season against Tennessee State (13-4) and two vs. Delaware State (9-1 and 12-3), and are 6-3 in their last 9 games. In the 12-3 Delaware State blowout, the Braves had a nine run fourth inning, led by an incredible performance in the middle of the lineup, as Abbott Badgley (editor’s note: this is a cool name), Samantha Smith and freshman Katie Pederson were a combined 7-for-10 with five runs, eight RBI, two doubles and a home run.
  • Both Smith and Badgley were named MVC Players of the Week and earned spots on the all-tournament team at this past weekend’s Plainsman Invite in Auburn, AL. From the press release:

Smith hit .500 for the week, going 8-for-16 with two doubles, six runs and four RBI while scoring or driving in 10 of Bradley’s 30 runs over the weekend. She boasted a .625 slugging percentage and .471 on base percentage, collecting hits in all five games to push her career-best hit streak to six games.

Badgley hit .357 for the weekend (5-for-14) and also went 1-0 with a 0.81 ERA in two appearances in the circle. In fact, she had a team-best 8.2 innings of work and held opponents to a .129 average. At the plate, three of her five hits went for extra bases (two doubles & a home run), as she tallied a .438 OBP and .714 slugging percentage.

  • Coach Amy Hayes is in her 14th season with the Braves and holds a 269-370 record. Bradley is in Coach Hayes’ blood, as she served as an assistant coach previously, before coming in to take over in 2008 and leading the Braves to their first two NCAA Tournament appearances in school history. Her best season at the helm was in 2019, when the team went 15-10 and finished fourth in the the MVC.

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.