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SEC TOURNEY PREVIEW: Mizzou Softball enters quarters with revenge on the mind

After taking Auburn down, Mizzou moves on and is out for blood against Alabama after last weekend’s umpire disaster

SEC Tourney Winners: Jenna Laird & Kendyll Bailey
@MizzouSoftball | twitter

Mizzou survived the first round. And now they face… [cue dramatic music] Alabama

When we last saw Missouri in action, they were knocking off the Auburn Tigers on Wednesday afternoon in their first game of the SEC Tournament. Jo tossed a Web(er) gem**, limiting Auburn to just four hits and three walks to go along with eight strikeouts in a complete game shutout. While I only witnessed the first two innings and the devastating final strike out of the game, the performance appeared to be phenomenal.

It was a good thing Jo was on fire though, because the team had trouble stringing together offense. They batted only .143 as a team, and .154 with runners on. Jenna Laird was pretty much singlehandedly responsible for for Mizzou’s offense, as she was 2-for-3 on the day with a double and an RBI. Alex Honnold got the Tigers’ only other hit. It should also be noted, Honnold was amazing in the field on Wednesday, and made a helluva throw to the plate to take out a runner (see video below).

**I cannot take credit for this; it was all Paul

Listen:

Some highlights (including Honnold’s play):

While I included this in the preview for the Auburn matchup, I think this becomes super important here, given the ramifications of that umpiring decision on the Tigers’ last series.

D1 Softball had this to say about the Tigers in their SEC weekly wrap-up:

Missouri has a new chip to use for motivation. If we’ve learned anything about Mizzou over the last few years, it’s that the Tigers play better when they feel slighted or aggrieved. They will be coming in hot at the SEC tournament after their series-clinching 3-1 loss to Alabama came tinged in controversy. Ashley Prange’s go-ahead 3-run home run in the fourth inning wasn’t really a home run. Missouri left fielder Casidy Chaumont skied at the wall and got enough of her glove on the ball for it to bounce off the top of the wall and remain fair. But the umpires ruled the hit was a home run, and it was an unreviewable play by SEC replay rules. It was a tough call in real time for any umpire. That was little solace for Mizzou, which had to feel robbed after it should have been Chaumont credited with the robbing. And guess what? If the Tigers beat Auburn in their opening game of the SEC tournament on Wednesday, they would get a rematch with Alabama. Something tells me the home run will be mentioned a few times in Mizzou’s pregame meetings if that happens.

WHEN: Thursday, 5/12 @ 1:30pm (assuming the 11am game doesn’t go to extras like yesterday)

WHERE: Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium | Gainesville, Fla.

TV/STREAMING: SEC Network

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

HISTORY: According to Mizzou Athletics’ history and Paul — thanks, Paul — the Tigers are 9-17 against the Crimson Tide since Feb 2000. The series last weekend was a 1 W, 2 L affair** before that, their last series was in early March 2019 during HCLA’s first season, and they were swept in T-Town (5-11 | 8-14 | 1-3). Not that this will have any bearing on this weekend’s results, mind you, but the last time Mizzou beat Bama in AL was March 2016 (approx 9 meetings ago). Also during this timespan, the Tigers’ largest margin of victory was a 9-0 shutout in 2010.

**One result is up for debate, considering the ****show the umps bestowed upon our fair Tigers last weekend in Game 3.

Since Mizzou used Weber on Wednesday, that means the Crimson Tide will contend with Laurin Krings this afternoon. In her last appearance against Bama, she threw a CG, allowing five hits, three earned runs, and two walks, to go along with five strikeouts.

Recaps from the weekend series, in case you missed them: Game 1 & Game 2 (mine) | Game 3 (Chris Blake)

Due to the high-strikeout nature of Alabama’s All-American pitcher, Montana Fouts, it’s going to be important for Missouri to focus on their plate discipline. They struck out 11 times on Wednesday, but also walked six (against a pitcher who is not very susceptible to walks and strikes out a lot of people).

The Crimson Tide are known for getting things started right away, and are outscoring opponents 49-11 in the first inning, so Tiger pitchers will need to be with it and ready to go FAST. They are 30-4 when scoring first, and 16-2 when scoring in the first inning. (Rolltide.com) Over the weekend, Mizzou actually led in each of the three games first, but ultimately couldn’t pull it off.

M-I-Z!

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

2022 RECORD: 33-18 (13-10 in SEC)

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in SEC

RANKING: #22 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #24 (USA Today/NFCA), NR (D1 Softball), NR (Softball America), , #21 (current RPI)

2022 TOP PERFORMERS (as of May 12):

  • Jenna Laird, SS: .343 BA | .915 OPS | 42 R | 60 H | 10 2B | 2 3B | 5 HR | 20 RBI | .509 SLG% | .406 OB% | 22-25 SB
  • Kim Wert, DP: .331 BA | 1.138 OPS | 27 R | 48 H | 6 2B | 16 HR | 52 RBI | 24 BB | .703 SLG% | .435 OB%
  • Brooke Wilmes, OF: .323 BA | 1.042 OPS | 38 R | 53 H | 5 2B | 1 3B | 14 HR | 32 RBI | .622 SLG% | .420 OB%
  • Casidy Chaumont, OF: .323 BA | .941 OPS | 31 R | 40 H | 11 2B | 1 3B | 6 HR | 22 RBI | .573 SLG% | .368 OB%
  • Alex Honnold, OF: .311 BA | .866 OPS | 24 R | 47 H | 11 2B | 3 3B | 2 HR | 17 RBI | .464 SLG% | .402 OB% | 5-6 SB
  • Kendyll Bailey, 2B: .298 BA | .917 OPS | 16 R | 48 H | 7 2B | 11 HR | 31 RBI | .547 SLG% | .379 OB%
  • Jordan Weber, SP: 2.74 ERA | 1.10 WHIP | 14-6 | 10 CG | 3 SHO | 132.2 IP | 95 H | 55 R | 52 ER | 51 BB | 112 K | 36 XBH | 20 HR | .200 Opp BA
  • Laurin Krings, SP: 3.13 ERA | 1.30 WHIP | 13-8 | 10 CG | 4 SHO | 134.1 IP | 68 R | 60 ER | 50 BB | 159 K | 40 XBH | 18 HR | .241 Opp BA
  • Megan Schumacher, RP: 2.36 ERA | 1.52 WHIP | 6-2 | 59.1 IP | 64 H | 28 R | 20 ER | 26 BB | 41 K | 9 XBH | 1 HR | .269 Opp BA

Allow me to regurgitate the preview from last week.

They get a graphic because it was already made!

2021 RECORD: 52-9 (18-6 in SEC)

2022 RECORD: 41-10 (16-8 in SEC), 8-0 neutral site

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 2nd in SEC

RANKING: #7 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #5 (USA Today/NFCA), #6 (D1 Softball), #6 (Softball America), , #4 (current RPI)

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

  • Ally Shipman: .352 BA | 1.028 OPS | 37 R | 51 H | 11 2B | 8 HR | 45 RBI | .593 SLG% | .435 OB% | 5-5 SB
  • Ashley Prange: .348 BA | 1.147 OPS | 39 R | 46 H | 13 2B | 3 3B | 8 HR | 27 RBI | .674 SLG% | .473 OB%
  • Dallis Goodnight: .315 BA | .763 OPS | 33 R | 41 H | 3 2B | 1 3B | 1 HR | 8 RBI | .377 SLG% | .386 OB% | 17-19 SB
  • Megan Bloodworth: .313 BA | 1.034 OPS | 14 R | 30 H | 6 2B | 1 3B | 7 HR | 29 RBI | .615 SLG% | .419 OB%
  • Kaylee Tow: .285 BA | .805 OPS | 25 R | 35 H | 4 2B | 4 HR | 27 RBI | .415 SLG% | .400 OB%
  • Jenna Johnson: .285 BA | .805 OPS | 26 R | 35 H | 5 2B | 1 3B | 4 HR | 22 RBI | .439 SLG% | .366 OB% | 11-15 SB
  • Bailey Dowling: .281 BA | .928 OPS | 24 R | 38 H | 8 2B | 1 3B | 9 HR | 28 RBI | .556 SLG% | .372 OB%
  • Montana Fouts, SP: 1.97 ERA | 0.97 WHIP | 22-5 | 17 CG | 4 SHO | 159.2 IP | 106 H | 54 R | 45 ER | 49 BB | 254 SO | 22 XBH | 10 HR | .182 Opp BA
  • Alex Salter, RP: 2.24 ERA | 4-0 | 1 CG | 1 SHO | 43.2 IP | 45 H | 15 R | 14 ER | 17 BB | 33 SO | 11 XBH | 5 HR | .266 Opp BA

NOTES/ACCOLADES:

  • The Crimson Tide are led by barely mortal (though she has shown some chinks in the armor recently) D1 Softball Preseason First Team All-American, Montana Fouts and three-time NFCA All-American and the only senior on the roster, Kaylee Tow. Last season, the 6’1” Fouts struck out a nation-leading 349 batters (insert eye emojis) and only allowed 49 (!) walks, while Tow’s line of .362 | 1.001 | .574 | 51 RBI | 68 H makes her Bama’s top returning player. This season, Fouts is leading the SEC with 124 K (50 more than the second place player).
  • Freshman phenom Megan Bloodworth was recently named one of 25 athletes in the running for the 2022 Schutt Sports/NFCA D1 Nation Freshman of the Year award. Her stats (listed above) are impressive, and she is hitting .317 in SEC play.
  • D1 Softball’s Preseason Third Team All-American, 2B Bailey Dowling, in her first full season of AB, is hitting .268 BA | .884 | .528 with 22 R | 34 H | 7 2B | 8 HR, but she’s one to keep an eye on because she is particularly good with two outs this season (12 2-out RBI | .348 BA | 4 2B | 3 HR). She was SUPER successful against the Tigers over the weekend.
  • Offense: Head Coach Patrick Murphy calls the overall athleticism of the entire team “extraordinary.” He’s got a squad of great athletes that are fun to watch and easy to coach, according to D1 Softball’s Fall Report. Coming off a WCWS semi run, Alabama is returning 11 players and are deep at pretty much every position. The Tide is hitting .301 in SEC play with two outs, and have scored 41 of their 96 RBI with two outs.
  • Pitching: Alabama’s pitching staff is G-O-O-D. Like, really good. They don’t give up a lot of homers or walks and they strike out a ton of people. They have allowed the fewest hits, runs, earned runs, doubles, and home runs of any SEC team. Weirdly enough, they don’t have a lefthander on staff? Might be good for Alex Honnold, who - as a lefty herself - has some trouble with lefty pitchers.
  • Key Additions: The Tide welcomed nine newcomers this season, including six freshmen and three transfers, including Tennessee transfer, Ally Shipman (.331 BA | 75 RBI in 3 seasons) and Ohio State transfer, Ashley Prange (.306 BA, 24 2B, 18 HR, 72 RBI in 103 games). The freshman class includes Gatorade Players of the Year from Tennessee, Michigan, and Georgia.
  • Head coach: The Tide are led by Patrick Murphy, who is in his 24th season at the helm. In his illustrious tenure, he’s lead the Tide to a 2012 natty, 13 WCWS berths, 6 SEC regular season titles, 5 SEC tourney titles, and 22-straight NCAA tourney bids. Murphy was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame last weekend, becoming the HOF’s first ever softball inductee.

OVERALL TEAM COMPARISONS:

SECSports.com

For more statistical analysis, check out my preview from last weekend.

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.