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SOFTBALL PREVIEW: It’s Senior Weekend at Mizzou Softball Stadium, and the Tigers hope to end their last home series with a bang (of the bat)

The red-hot no. 25 Tigers, winners of their last four, will take on another team on a hot streak, Texas A&M, who just took two games from then-no. 2 Alabama

Colin Braley | Associated Press

Happy Senior Weekend, Tiger fans!

Hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate and we’ll get to witness a three game series at the actual allotted times at Mizzou Softball Stadium. At the conclusion of Sunday’s game, a veritable “Who’s Who of Mizzou Softball” will be honored for their service to the team. Join as we bid adieu to: Kendyll Bailey! Casidy Chaumont! Abby George (who opted not to play this year but stayed with the team as a supportive force)! Emma Raabe! Kim Wert! Brooke Wilmes! Hatti Moore!

(Hatti technically went through the ceremony last year, but they’re planning something for her, regardless)

Gotta give them their flowers

So yeah... that’s... um.... a lot of personality and hard work and production leaving at the end of the season, huh?

As for how the past week has gone for our fair Tigers, there’s really no need to waste time recapping the last four games again — they were wonderful (!!!!) — but you can read all about them here!

Kentucky: Game 1 | Kentucky: Game 2-3 | Midweek game finale: St Louis University

M-I-Z!

In honor of the last home series of the regular season, y’all are in for a treat today. This preview is ROBUST.

WHEN: Friday, 4/29 @ 6:30p | Saturday, 4/30 @ 4p | Sunday, 5/1 @ 1pm

WHERE: Mizzou Softball Stadium, Columbia, Mo.

TV/STREAMING: SEC Network

STATS: Live on StatBroadcast (just scroll down to the event)

HISTORY:

In the 23-year timespan catalogued on Missouri’s site from April 1999-present, Mizzou leads in matchups, 28-22, and is 7-3 in their last ten games. Currently, the Tigers are on a three-game win streak against the Aggies, and beat them 4-0, 8-0, and 7-3 in their last series (4/18/19-4/20/19), which was at home. Also in this timespan, the Tigers were 20-6 against A&M at home, and the Aggies haven’t beaten MU on the road since... 2013!

As of before that, SID Paul McCaw was to the rescue (thanks, Paul), and said that actually, in the all-time series, A&M leads Mizzou, 40—31.**

**There’s a discrepancy here, as the A&M site says the Aggies “holds a slim 36-34 series advantage over Missouri” with its last win on the road coming in 2013. [insert shruggy emoji]

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

2022 RECORD: 29-17 (8-9 in SEC), 11-7 in home games

CURRENT SEC RANK: 9th: 1 W < AUB/UK (9 W), 2 W < UGA/LSU (10 W), 3 W < UF/TENN (11 W)

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in SEC

RANKING: #25 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #26 (USA Today/NFCA), NR (D1 Softball), NR (Softball America), , #23 (current RPI)

LAST 7 GAMES: SLU (W 9-3), @ #9/12 Kentucky (W 9-1, 5in | W 8-7 | W 13-0, 5 in), #14/13 Georgia (L 3-1 | W 6-2 | L 4-3)

RECORD VS RANKED TEAMS: 7-7 (W: Liberty, UCLA, Washington, Georgia, Kentucky (3) / L: VA Tech, Oregon, Northwestern (extras), Tennessee (2), Georgia (2)

2022 TOP PERFORMERS:

  • Casidy Chaumont, OF: .376 BA | 1.100 OPS | 29 R | 38 H | 11 2B | 1 3B | 6 HR | 20 RBI | .683 SLG% | .417 OB%
  • Kim Wert, DP: .346 BA | 1.132 OPS | 24 R | 45 H | 5 2B | 14 HR | 45 RBI | .708 SLG% | .424 OB%
  • Jenna Laird, SS: .338 BA | .897 OPS | 37 R | 51 H | 8 2B | 2 3B | 4 HR | 18 RBI | .497 SLG% | .400 OB% | 20-22 SB
  • Kendyll Bailey, 2B: .333 BA | .998 OPS | 14 R | 46 H | 6 2B | 10 HR | 27 RBI | .594 SLG% | .404 OB%
  • Brooke Wilmes, OF: .322 BA | 1.052 OPS | 34 R | 47 H | 4 2B | 1 3B | 14 HR | 32 RBI | .651 SLG% | .401 OB%
  • Alex Honnold, OF: .302 BA | .861 OPS | 19 R | 39 H | 9 2B | 3 3B | 2 HR | 16 RBI | .465 SLG% | .396 OB% | 3-4 SB
  • Jordan Weber, SP: 2.67 ERA | 1.07 WHIP | 11-5 | 7 CG | 2 SHO | 102.1 IP | 71 H | 39 ER | 39 BB | 85 K | 27 XBH | 13 HR | 8 WP | 10 HBP | .196 Opp BA
  • Laurin Krings, SP: 3.19 ERA | 1.28 WHIP | 12-7 | 8 CG | 4 SHO | 120.2 IP | 112 H | 62 R | 55 ER | 43 BB | 147 K | 36 XBH | 17 HR | 9 WP | 7 HBP | .241 Opp BA
  • Megan Schumacher, RP: 2.58 ERA | 1.53 WHIP | 5-2 | 54.1 IP | 61 H | 28 R | 20 ER | 22 BB | 34 K | 9 XBH | 1 HR | 6 WP | 1 HBP | .276 Opp BA

NOTES:

  • Mizzou’s final midweek game of the season was Wednesday against SLU and the Tigers were victorious, winning 9-3. Brooke Wilmes, Kim Wert, and Emma Raabe each homered. Missouri has hit three homers in each of its last four games. Whether the home run barrage will come in handy against the Aggies? It remains to be seen, as they don’t give up a ton of homers.
  • Kim Wert is currently fifth in the SEC in RBI (19), while speedster Jenna Laird is fifth in stolen bases (6). Wert was named D1 Softball’s SEC Player of the Week after her four home runs (including two grand slams) in the Kentucky series. She drove in 13 runs over three games, going 6 for 7 at the plate. Oh, and she’s the reigning SEC Player of the Week and Extra Inning Softball Co-National Player of the Week, too.
  • A&M is prone to striking out, so this could be great for Specs & Jo, who are likely to attack hitters with their spin and change. Five of A&M’s starters have 24-28 this season (by contrast, only Kara Daly has that many— 35).
  • The Aggies pitching staff gives up a lot of walks (72), which puts them at 10th in the league. This data shows that as long as the Tigers utilize good plate discipline, they should get some free passes! Also of potentially of good news for the Tigers? Their recent stretch of excellent base running should come in handy as the Aggies lead the SEC in wild pitches (31).

Let’s go in-depth on Mizzou’s final home opponent, shall we?

@12thManFndtn | twitter

2021 RECORD: 32-23 (8-16 in SEC)

2022 RECORD: 27-18 (5-13 in SEC, 2-8 away games)

CURRENT SEC RANK: 12th

LAST 8 GAMES: Lamar (W 3-2), #2 Alabama (L 2-4 | W 9-1, 5 in | W 6-4), @ #14 Tennessee (L 5-7 | L 8-11 | L 1-5)

RECORD VS RANKED TEAMS: 5-17 (W: Alabama (2), LSU, Georgia, Florida / L: Alabama, Tennessee (3), LSU (2), Georgia (2), Florida (2), Auburn (3), AZ State, UCLA, OK State (2)

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 10th in SEC

RANKING: #32 (current RPI)

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

  • Haley Lee: .452 BA | 1.386 OPS | 44 R | 57 H | 11 2B | 11 HR | 38 RBI | .802 SLG% | 39 BB | .584 OB% | 6-6 SB
  • Koko Wooley: .373 BA | .883 OPS | 38 R | 53 H | 5 2B | 4 3B | 11 RBI | .465 SLG% | .418 OB% | 23-25 SB
  • Morgan Smith: .336 BA | .946 OPS | 31 R | 42 H | 6 2B | 1 3B | 4 HR | 23 RBI | .496 SLG% | .450 OB%
  • Katie Dack: .316 BA | 1.133 OPS | 18 R | 25 H | 5 2B | 1 3B | 8 HR | 31 RBI | .709 SLG% | .424 OB%
  • Trinity Cannon: .308 BA | .992 OPS | 28 R | 37 H | 8 2B | 7 HR | 35 RBI | .550 SLG% | .442 OB%
  • McKinzy Herzog, SP: 1.66 ERA | 1.11 WHIP | 9-5 | 6 CG | 3 SHO | 80.1 IP | 48 H | 26 R | 19 ER | 41 BB | 98 SO | 20 XBH | 4 HR | .168 Opp BA | 15 WP | 17 HBP |
  • Emiley Kennedy, SP: 2.14 ERA | 1.19 WHIP | 9-7 | 6 CG | 101.1 IP | 72 H | 47 R | 31 ER | 49 BB | 85 SO | 27 XBH | 6 HR | .195 Opp BA | 22 WP | 12 HBP
  • Grace Uribe, RP: 4.57 ERA | 1.73 WHIP | 5-2 | 2 CG | 56.2 IP | 67 H | 48 R | 37 ER | 31 BB | 22 SO | 26 XBH | 10 HR | .284 Opp BA | 4 WP | 2 HBP

NOTES/ACCOLADES:

  • Morgan Smith is in the middle of a team-best 19 straight games of getting on base. The right fielder currently ranks third with a .336 BA, and has six multi-hit games this season. Smith, a senior, holds a career .289 batting average.
  • Katie Dack is the the conference’s reigning SEC Freshman of the Week (her third time winning it this season), for her performance at the dish against no. 2 Alabama. She batted .600 and hit HR no. 7 off All-American Montana Fouts** on Sunday (remember that name for next weekend). She was 2-for-2 in Sunday’s win, getting her fourth multi-hit performance of the season.

**remember that name for next weekend

  • Haley Lee, who Mizzou head coach Larissa Anderson warned us about, is one of the best players in the conference. The 2021 NFCA All-South Region Second Team/NFCA Third Team All-American currently sits in the top 11 in the SEC in: walks (3rd), BA (10th), SLG% (8th), OB% (7th), runs (5th), HR (6th) and RBI (11th). Last season, she batted .422 with 25 home runs (third in the nation), seven doubles and 51 RBIs last season, while setting the program’s single-season HR and SLG% records (.955).

From her coach, on the expectations coming into this season:

“The thing is how do you get better than that? It’s just stupid. You can’t,” Evans said. “I think the challenge is making sure we keep her grounded in terms of expectations. I am not suggesting she can’t do it again, but what if she hits .380 instead of .422? What if she hits 21 home runs instead of 25? That is still another career year.”

  • Shortstop Koko Wooley is one of 25 student-athletes in the running for the 2022 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year Award. She leads the Aggies in triples and SB, and is second in BA and runs. In the SEC, she’s second in triples, fifth in stolen bases, and 11th in hits. Not bad for a rookie, huh?
  • Offense: Makinzy Herzog, who you’ll see mentioned below as a pitcher, batted .354 with 13 home runs, 15 doubles and 37 RBIs last season. She also stole 18 bases in 22 attempts.
  • Texas A&M is a base-stealing machine, so Mizzou C Hatti Moore is going to need to keep an eye on this and the infield will need to stay on the ready to make a play quickly. The Aggies have stolen 16 bases in SEC play alone, and on the season, Herzog & Williams have swiped 10 apiece, while Wooley is 23-25 (!!!!) on the season.
  • Pitching: The Aggies have nearly everyone on staff returning and came into the season planning to use a “pitcher by committee” approach, much like the Tigers saw in Lexington last weekend. They are led by aforementioned senior Makinzy Herzog (12-7 | 2.94 ERA | 121 K | 81 BB) who led A&M in appearances last season.

“She is a power pitcher and someone who has seen a lot of innings for us,” Evans said. “She is a really great athlete and good ballplayer. We just need to see her be more consistent in the zone.”

Many of the Aggies’ pitchers have trouble with control. Kennedy and Herzog have a combined 24 wild pitches in JUST conference games, and Herzog has hit 10 batters in the SEC (ouch).

  • Key Additions: Texas A&M’s roster added four freshmen this offseason, all likely have a chance to contribute. On Koko Wooley, according to the D1 Softball Fall Report:

“She really opened my eyes. I knew she was athletic, but you never really know until they get to your campus and see how they respond to coaching and the competition around them,” Evans said. “She really stood out. She is a phenomenal athlete and has a really good shot of being in our starting lineup for a long time.”

Katie Dack has exceptional exit velocity and power, according to her HC. “The ball off her bat is special and I don’t say that very often… I mean, this kid has even more velocity than Haley (Lee). That is pretty incredible,” Evans said.

  • Head coach: The Aggies are led by NFCA Hall of Fame coach Jo Evans, who is in her 26th season at the helm of Texas A&M. During her tenure, she’s led the team to 21 NCAA postseasons, including three trips to the WCWS (2007, 2008, 2017) and 7 trips to the Supers. Her teams have posted an unbelievable 23 30-win seasons, including 11 40-win seasons. She is a 7-time conference coach of the year, and holds the most D-1 wins among active head coaches in the SEC. (12thMan.com)

OVERALL TEAM COMPARISONS:

As of April 28, 2022

SEC COMPARISONS:

Last year, Mizzou and Alabama led the SEC in runs scored, and the Tigers had the most home runs and second most hits. We know that things are different this year, and despite having the same team, there have been some challenges. However, it’s gotten WAY better recently.

According to the SEC’s stat page Mizzou is now 10th in BA after being in the cellar literally the entire season, and has scored 75 runs. Since we last checked in, Mizzou has moved to second-to-last in hits (112) and due to their robust hitting — I like that word today — they’re slugging .477 (6th in SEC).

A few bright spots? While the offensive numbers are still putting them towards the middle to lower end of the SEC (they’ve had to come from so far behind!) they have struck out the fourth fewest times in the conference (90). One more thing to keep in mind, though, Mizzou has played 4 less SEC games than Alabama/Florida so their comparisons aren’t really apples to apples, and one less than the rest of the teams (except the Lady Vols, who also have played 17 conference games).

Individually, three of the Tigers’ starters are above .300 in SEC games now: Wert (.378), Bailey (.333), and Wilmes (.321). Honnold and Laird are inching closer to .300 (at .277 & .276, respectively) but Raabe, Chaumont, Daly, and Moore are all .226 (Raabe) or under (the reset of ‘em). I feel it must be pointed out that CC missed a good stretch of SEC games, and so she’s had to do the most to get her average to come up much at all.

SEC Offense | April 28
via SECSports.com

Individually on the pitcher’s mound, Megan Schumacher leads the team in ERA in SEC play at a 2.47 (7th), while Jordan Weber has a 3.65 (down from a 5.05, pre-UK series!!) and Laurin Krings has a 4.76. Specs sits at no. 12 in strikeouts (43), while Jo is no. 11 in strikeouts looking (9).

The Tigers sit closer to the top quadrant of the the SEC in ERA with six games left in the regular season. More things I like to see? Missouri has the third lowest opposing batting avg (.247), and Jo’s .203 Opp BA is 6th in the conference.

SEC Pitching | April 28
via SECSports

In terms of how Mizzou matches up with its opponent pitching-wise, Mizzou is better in pretty much all major categories (they’re basically even in HR allowed and SO). The Tigers actually lead the SEC in the least number of hits allowed (107 vs A&M’s 119) and are second in runs allowed (73 vs A&M’s 99). Mizzou has also allowed 11 less earned runs (65 vs 76).

KEEP IN MIND:

“Anybody in this conference can beat anybody on any day,” Coach reminded us. “So you can’t take anyone lightly at all. A&M took 2-of-3 from Alabama, and they were the best team in the country. So we need to focus on keeping Lee off the bases. That’s going to be the biggest thing because she’s one of the best hitters in the country. We have to be very strategic in our pitching to her. Offensively, we have to attack the pitching staff. They’re going to make a lot of changes throughout their bullpen to keep us off balance. So we have to be able to control that strike.”

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