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SEMIS PREVIEW: Mizzou Softball reaches ‘The Florida Four’ looking to avenge earlier losses to Lady Vols

This Tiger team has come to PLAY, and next up is a rematch with no. 13/10 Tennessee. Can they be stopped?

Hatti’s got hops!
@MizzouPix | twitter

Mizzou picked off Auburn on Wednesday. Then they got revenge on Alabama Thursday. So, who’s next?

Today, our Missouri Tigers get another chance at some sweet, sweet revenge as they take on the Tennessee Volunteers, a team who beat them convincingly in an arctic tundra double header earlier during a particularly perilous time for Mizzou Softball. However, MUCH has changed since then, and these Tigers are on an upswing at the right time. Also, they play better when they feel slighted or aggrieved, so the Tigers have come in hot in this SEC Tournament with something to prove and a potential Regional hosting gig on the line.

I recapped yesterday’s game in my Links this morning, so be sure to check that out. You also can listen to Brooke Wilmes talk with the SEC Network broadcast team post-game. She does a tremendous job of explaining the Tigers’ game plan.

WHEN: Friday, 5/13 @ 2pm

WHERE: Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium | Gainesville, Fla.

TV/STREAMING: ESPN2

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

HISTORY: Mizzou’s history with Tennessee extends back to 2013, and the Tigers hold an overall 9-12 record against the Vols. In a weather-shortened doubleheader earlier this season, the Tigers were swept, losing 14-3 in 6 innings in Game 1 and 4-5 in Game 2. In 2021, Mizzou took 2-of-3 in Knoxville. I’d also consider the staff shakeup to be a part of their history, as former associate head coach Chris Malveaux and his wife (who was also on staff) departed in the offseason for greener more ugly orange pastures.

Since Mizzou used Laurin Krings on Thursday — she was SOOOOO good — that means the Volunteers will have to contend with Game One starter Jordan Weber today. In her last appearance just two days ago, Jo was dazzling, throwing a complete game shutout. Weber allowed just four hits and three walks to go along with eight strikeouts in her 103 pitch outing. You can read all about the Web(er) gem here.

M-I-Z!

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

2022 RECORD: 34-18 (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), , #19 (current RPI)

2022 TOP PERFORMERS (as of May 13):

  • Jenna Laird, SS: .346 BA | .922 OPS | 43 R | 62 H | 11 2B | 2 3B | 5 HR | 20 RBI | .514 SLG% | .408 OB% | 22-25 SB
  • Kim Wert, DP: .332 BA | 1.120 OPS | 27 R | 48 H | 6 2B | 16 HR | 51 RBI | 26 BB | .689 SLG% | .431 OB%
  • Brooke Wilmes, OF: .323 BA | 1.035 OPS | 39 R | 54 H | 5 2B | 1 3B | 14 HR | 32 RBI | .617 SLG% | .418 OB%
  • Casidy Chaumont, OF: .315 BA | .919 OPS | 31 R | 40 H | 11 2B | 1 3B | 6 HR | 22 RBI | .559 SLG% | .360 OB%
  • Alex Honnold, OF: .305 BA | .850 OPS | 25 R | 47 H | 11 2B | 3 3B | 2 HR | 17 RBI | .455 SLG% | .395 OB% | 5-6 SB
  • Kendyll Bailey, 2B: .294 BA | .904 OPS | 16 R | 48 H | 7 2B | 11 HR | 32 RBI | .540 SLG% | .364 OB%
  • Kara Daly, 3B: .267 BA |.908 OPS | 22 R | 35 H | 2 2B | 11 HR | 24 RBI | .534 SLG% | .374 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: 2.97 ERA | 1.27 WHIP | 14-8 | 11 CG | 5 SHO | 141.1 IP | 68 R | 60 ER | 50 BB | 162 K | 40 XBH | 18 HR | .239 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

NOTES:

  • Some of Tennessee’s most prominent hitters are quite susceptible to the strikeout, so hopefully Jo’s performance from Wednesday translates to today. Puni (31), Milloy (30), and Beautae (29) lead the pack. Conversely, expected starting pitcher Erin Edmoundson does give up her fair share of doubles and home runs, so it’s important for the Tigers to pounce early and often. As Coach Anderson said in yesterday’s postgame, she was quite impressed with the Tigers’ approach at the plate. “We’re not having a lot of swings and misses,” she said. “And when I watch our team offensively, we’re not chasing the ball. We have the opportunity to square some balls up.”
  • Lucky Charms were distributed to the entire Tiger team yesterday, and while they didn’t hit any home runs, it clearly did the trick. They really are magically delicious.
  • On Friday morning, the league announced its All-SEC honors, and four Tigers found their names included, and rightfully so. Kim Wert and Brooke Wilmes were each awarded First Team All-SEC, while Jenna Laird was awarded Second Team All-SEC. Casidy Chaumont was named a member of the All-Defensive Team.
  • Five of Mizzou Softball’s SEC Tournament wins have been shutouts, and this is the second year in a row they find themselves in the semifinals.

Now allow me to regurgitate part of the earlier season preview.

2021 RECORD: 42-15 (12-11 in SEC)

2022 RECORD: 39-15 (15-8 in SEC), 9-6 neutral site

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 4th in SEC

RANKING: #10 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #13 (USA Today/NFCA), #11 (D1 Softball), #11 (Softball America), #8 (current RPI)

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

  • Kiki Milloy: .356 BA | 1.131 OPS | 51 R | 64 H | 12 2B | 2 3B | 14 HR | 48 RBI | .678 SLG% | .453 OB% | 29-31 SB
  • Amanda Ayala: .312 BA | .944 OPS | 31 R | 48 H | 12 2B | 3 3B | 5 HR | 29 RBI | .526 SLG% | .418 OB% | 13-15 SB
  • Zaida Puni: .303 BA | 1.000 OPS | 28 R | 50 H | 11 2B | 14 HR | 50 RBI | .624 SLG% | .376 OB%
  • Lair Beautae: .293 BA | .863 OPS | 30 R | 41 H | 8 2B | 1 3B | 5 HR | 33 RBI | .471 SLG% | .392 OB% | 11-12 SB
  • Kelcy Leach: .284 BA | .897 OPS | 18 R | 29 H | 6 2B | 5 HR | 16 RBI | .490 SLG% | .407 OB%
  • Ashley Rogers, SP: 2.18 ERA | 0.86 WHIP | 10-5 | 6 CG | 3 SHO | 93 IP | 52 H | 29 ER | 28 BB | 112 SO | 19 XBH | 12 HR | 10 HBP | .161 Opp BA
  • Erin Edmoundson, SP: 2.46 ERA | 1.09 WHIP | 19-6 | 11 CG | 3 SHO | 156.2 IP | 119 H | 55 ER | 51 BB | 143 SO | 37 XBH | 22 HR | .205 Opp BA
  • Ryleigh White, RP: 2.94 ERA | 0.98 WHIP | 3-2 | 1 CG | 35.2 IP | 26 H | 15 ER | 9 BB | 24 SO | 8 HR | .197 Opp BA

NOTES/ACCOLADES:

  • Five Volunteers were awarded All-SEC honors, including Second Team honorees, Zaida Puni, Erin Edmoundson, Kiki Milloy, Kelcy Leach, and Ivy Davis (also part of the All-Defensive Team).
  • In the Volunteers’ 13-inning win yesterday, super senior shortstop Ivy Davis was instrumental in preventing runs. She recorded a season-high seven fielding assists and four putouts. Kiki Milloy was 3-for-5 while Zaida Puni was 2-for-5. (Per UTSports.com)
  • Tennessee holds a 29-25 all-time record in the SEC Tournament, and they’ve won it all twice (2006 & 2011). Prior to the tournament, UT closed their season with a three-game sweep over Auburn. The Vols posted a 2.33 ERA with 14 strikeouts and one walk in the series.
  • Offense: The Lady Vols are base robbers. Along with those listed above in the notable players, the team is 84-93 on stolen base attempts this season, and are led by Kiki Milloy’s 29 and Amanda Ayala, who’s swiped 13. Additionally, Tennessee, much like the Tigers, are fans of the long ball. They’ve smashed 88 HR on the season (Mizzou has 82), and Milloy, Puni, Ivy Davis, McKenna Gibson, and Ashley Morgan all have 10+. Tennessee credits their newfound production to a familiar name, coach Chris Malveaux, who served on the Tigers’ staff previously.
  • Pitching: 2022 D1 Softball’s No. 6 ranked pitcher and Second Team All-American Ashley Rogers is healthy again, and pitched all 13 innings of the Vols’ win yesterday. I can’t foresee a situation in which she sees the mound after throwing 161 (!!!!!) pitches on the day. Which means, the Tigers will go against Erin Edmoundson, who tossed a complete game four-hitter (3R, 1ER, 3K) in AM game, and then came in in relief for PM game, allowing only 1 hit and two walks in her 3IP in the earlier series. Anderson mentioned after the back-to-back losses that Edmoundson’s unorthodox delivery made it difficult for lefties (Wilmes, Laird & Honnold, in particular) to see her release point. Anderson preached a faster adjustment to more competitive pitching going forward, asking the hitters to “trust their stuff” and wait for what they need.

As a team, the Lady Vols hold a 2.91 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 359 IP. They’ve given up 278 H and 171 R (149 earned), while striking out 316 and walking 131. They’re holding opponents overall to a .208 BA.

  • 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 and All-Big XII First Team honoree, 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).
  • Head Coach: The Lady Vols are led by Karen (what a dumb name) Weekly, who is in her 21st season at the helm of the Tennessee program. She served as a co-head coach alongside her husband, Ralph Weekly, for 20 seasons, but she is the sole one in charge after his retirement after last year. She boasts 1172 career wins and has helped guide Tennessee to 949 wins and five Top 3 national finishes.

OVERALL TEAM COMPARISONS:

As of May 13, 2022

When comparing the two teams, Missouri has a better ERA in conference than Tennessee, though their respective staffs have given up the same amount of hits and are nearly the same in ER and strikeouts. Missouri does walk a good amount more batters (73 vs 62), so it will be important for the staff to limit those today. Tennessee leads the league in fielding, posting a .983 SEC fld% and only 10 errors, while Mizzou sits at .974 with 16 errors.

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.