I hate selection specials. They fill me with dread because I have seen far too many times a Missouri team get an unfavorable draw or be left off altogether. While I had no doubt the Missouri Tigers would make the tourney with their 36-20 record and SEC Championship title game appearance, I wasn’t sure if they’d be rewarded with a Top 16 seed and get to host.
After all, as Coach Anderson reminded us in the post-announcement press conference, at mid-season (around the time of the Ole Miss sweep), the Tigers had yet to win a SEC game, and their chances of hosting seemed all but evaporated.
“We were actually counting games [at that point] to make sure we could get above .500 to have an opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament…” She continued. “At that point, we had to reevaluate what we’re doing and we said, ‘You’re not hosting this year. We’ve got to refocus on on what we’re trying to do.’”
And do that, they did. They stopped trying to focus on being last year’s team, and focused on being THIS year’s team. This will continue to be important this weekend as well, to not be reminded of last season’s Regionals.
Well, about a half hour into the show, we realized that the committee did - in fact - notice the Tigers’ improvement. I’m sure they all thought, “HELL YES, Missouri deserves this!” (probably)
So rejoice, Tigers fans, the road to the Super Regionals will officially go through Columbia, MO, as Mizzou was revealed as the No. 15 overall seed. And should they make it out of this weekend unscathed — we’ll look at who’s in their region in a moment — they’ll head to Tallahassee to perhaps face no. 2 overall seed, Florida State.
(Peep the shoes in the video. Those are MY new Mizzou kicks!)
But first thing’s first.
This is the Tigers’ 15th consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tourney, having played in every tournament since 2007. In that time span, the Tigers have played in 9 Super Regionals and 3 WCWS. This is coach Larissa Anderson’s third appearance with the Tigers out of that many chances (2020 was canceled).
Mizzou, No. 18 in the new RPI rankings released today, will face their first test against another team from the great (?) state of Missouri, the Missouri State Bears of the MVC. The Bears, who sits at No. 87 in RPI and went 26-18 on the season, are led by Daphne Plummer (.368/.447/.405) and Alex Boze (.345/.727/.467) on the offensive side, and Steffany Dickerson (1.66 ERA / 21-7 / 15 CG / 6 SHO / .221 Opp BA in 181 IP) on the mound this season. MSU is coming off of a Missouri Valley Conference tournament title after defeating Northern Iowa 10-4, securing them an automatic bid to the NCAAT. This is Missouri State’s seventh overall tournament appearance, but their first since 2011. According to MO State’s records, they are 15-38 all-time against the Bears, including 3-14 in CoMo (Per missouristatebears.com). They last played in 2014, but the Bears declined to play the Tigers again in 2015. (there’s a bit of history between the two teams between the current coach and Mizzou’s previous coach, EE)
Missouri, as you are all aware, lost in a heartbreaker in the SEC Tournament Championship to SEC Pitcher of the Year, Chenise Delce, and her Arkansas Razorbacks (the No. 4 overall seed) 4-0 on Saturday after turning some heads with a RUN in the tourney earlier in the week. But even with the loss, the Tigers have been playing good softball as of late, knocking off ranked teams left and right. On their way to the SEC Championship game, they took out no. 17/20 Auburn, no. 5/7 Alabama, and no. 13/10 Tennessee in three days. And in the two weeks prior, they also took a game from Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and swept both Texas A&M (home) and no. 9/12 Kentucky in Lexington.
Super senior Brooke Wilmes agreed with this assessment, telling the local media:
“I just think the fact that we were able to come out these last few weeks, not just in Florida, and have such wonderful outings has been a huge key into getting this regional appearance and being able to host it… We really turned some heads and we were rewarded with that tonight.”
Let’s take a look at the rest of their side of the bracket, shall we? Missouri and Missouri State will be the first to play in the Columbia Regional — feels good to say that — and will start at 1pm on Friday (I’LL BE THERE!), while the second game of the day will be traditional power Arizona (33-20, 8-16 PAC-12, no. 41 RPI) vs Illinois (34-20, 15-7 Big 10, no. 34 RPI) at around 3:30pm in the double elimination tournament.
Larissa Anderson stressed the importance of not looking ahead of the first opponent in her press conference this evening.
“Everybody is starting a new season,” she said. “And it doesn’t matter who we’re gonna play, we have to focus on what we can control… We want to make sure our stadium is one of the toughest places to play in the country and make it really uncomfortable for our opponents. So we just need to continue to prepare ourselves and look at what we do in order to be successful. And we have to focus on one game at a time. Missouri State is a really quality team, and when we take care of business with MO State, we can move on to Game Two.”
How to Watch
TIME: 1pm CST
DATE: Friday, May 20, 2022
LOCATION: Mizzou Softball Stadium, Columbia, Mo.
TV/STREAM: SEC Network/ESPN+
Interested in attending the game in person? That might prove difficult, as the stadium’s capacity is only 2,500 so you’ll need to act swiftly. Add in some regional teams and this series could be PACKED. And awesome. Ticket release info below:
“I’m just looking forward to a packed stadium and you know, going out there and having a great weekend,” Anderson said.
Of note, the seeding committee did not forget the absolute gauntlet which is the SEC, as the field of 64 includes potential Super Regional hosts no. 4 Arkansas & no. 6 Alabama, Regional hosts no. 11 Tennessee, no. 14 Florida, and no. 15 Missouri, as well as At-Large bids for Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Ole Miss, LSU, Auburn, and Georgia. WOW.
We’ll provide you with more information as the week goes on, but until then, let’s celebrate. This team has A LOT to be excited about.