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PREVIEW: Mizzou Softball closes out the regular season with a trip to Tuscaloosa

The red-hot no. 25 Tigers, winners of their last seven, will get perhaps their toughest test of the season against Alabama on the road

@MizzouSoftball | twitter

It’s here.

The end of the regular season. It’s been an up and down season for Missouri Softball, but they are certainly trending upwards at the best time, as evidenced by not only their rise in the rankings — after being knocked out for a number of weeks, they’re climbing to no. 23/24 in this week’s poll, and currently sit no. 20 in RPI — but seven straight wins and two series sweeps over Kentucky and Texas A&M.

As for how last weekend went for our fair Tigers, there’s really no need to waste time recapping the last three games again — they were exciting (!!!!) — but you can read all about them here!

Texas A&M: Game 1 | Texas A&M: Game 2 | Texas A&M: Game 3

On the recent performance of the team, Anderson said:

M-I-Z!

WHEN: Friday, 5/6 @ 6pm | Saturday, 5/7 @ 12:30pm | Sunday, 5/8 @ 1pm

WHERE: John & Ann Rhoads Softball Stadium | Tuscaloosa Ala.

TV/STREAMING: Friday & Saturday— SECN+ | Sunday— ESPNU

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

HISTORY:

According to Mizzou Athletics’ history and Paul — thanks, Paul — the Tigers are 8-15 against the Crimson Tide since Feb 2000. 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.

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

2022 RECORD: 32-17 (11-9 in SEC), 7-6 in away games

CURRENT SEC RANK: 4th

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in SEC

RANKING: #23 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #24 (USA Today/NFCA), NR (D1 Softball), NR (Softball America), , #20 (current RPI)

LAST 6 GAMES: Texas A&M (W 7-5 in 8 | W 7-2 | W 11-6), @ 9/12 Kentucky (W 9-1, 5in | W 8-7 | W 13-0 in 5)

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: .360 BA | 1.043 OPS | 31 R | 40 H | 11 2B | 1 3B | 6 HR | 22 RBI | .640 SLG% | .403 OB%
  • Jenna Laird, SS: .333 BA | .902 OPS | 40 R | 54 H | 9 2B | 2 3B | 5 HR | 19 RBI | .506 SLG% | .396 OB% | 21-23 SB
  • Kim Wert, DP: .333 BA | 1.113 OPS | 26 R | 46 H | 5 2B | 15 HR | 49 RBI | .696 SLG% | .417 OB%
  • Brooke Wilmes, OF: .325 BA | 1.067 OPS | 37 R | 49 H | 4 2B | 1 3B | 14 HR | 32 RBI | .642 SLG% | .425 OB%
  • Alex Honnold, OF: .321 BA | .908 OPS | 24 R | 44 H | 11 2B | 3 3B | 2 HR | 17 RBI | .489 SLG% | .419 OB% | 5-6 SB
  • Kendyll Bailey, 2B: .318 BA | .957 OPS | 15 R | 47 H | 7 2B | 10 HR | 29 RBI | .568 SLG% | .389 OB%
  • Jordan Weber, SP: 3.07 ERA | 1.11 WHIP | 12-5 | 8 CG | 2 SHO | 114 IP | 82H | 50 ER | 44 BB | 95 K | 32 XBH | 17 HR | 8 WP | 11 HBP | .201 Opp BA
  • Laurin Krings, SP: 3.11 ERA | 1.30 WHIP | 13-7 | 9 CG | 4 SHO | 128.1 IP | 119 H | 65 R | 57 ER | 48 BB | 154 K | 38 XBH | 18 HR | 9 WP | 7 HBP | .241 Opp BA
  • Megan Schumacher, RP: 2.48 ERA | 1.56 WHIP | 6-2 | 57 IP | 63 H | 28 R | 20 ER | 26 BB | 39 K | 9 XBH | 1 HR | 7 WP | 1 HBP | .273 Opp BA

NOTES:

  • Kim “The Homer” Wert leads the Tigers in homeruns on the year, and is the only Mizzou player in history to ever hit at least 15 homers in three seasons. She currently has a career-high 49 RBI and has driven in 23 runs (5th in the SEC)./
  • Brooke Wilmes’ hitting streak continues, and it’s reached 10 games. Her AB on Sunday were not countable stats (she walked three times and was hit by a pitch), so it lives on! In that stretch, she’s batting .532 and has 5 doubles, 6 HR, 12 RBI and 16 runs scored.
  • Due to the high-strikeout nature of Alabama’s pitching staff, it’s going to be important for Missouri to focus on their plate discipline. This has been going well for the Tigers as of late, as they’ve seen a decrease in their strikeouts and an increase in walks and contact.
  • Ace Jordan Weber, who had been phenomenal of late, had a lot of trouble in Sunday’s finale. The Aggies hitters seemed to get a hold of everything that was a strike. This will be something to monitor.
  • 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)

Let’s go really in-depth on Mizzou’s final regular season opponent, shall we?

@AlabamaSB | twitter

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

2022 RECORD: 39-9 (14-7 in SEC, 20-3 home games)

CURRENT SEC RANK: 2nd

LAST 4 GAMES: @ WKU (L 3-1), @ Texas A&M (W 4-2 | L 1-9 | L 4-6)

RECORD VS RANKED TEAMS: 12-6 (W: Arizona, VA Tech (2), Louisiana (2), LSU, Kentucky (2), Georgia (2), Florida (2) / L: LSU (2), Florida State, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida)

PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: xx in SEC

RANKING: #8 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #6 (USA Today/NFCA), #8 (D1 Softball), #8 (Softball America), , #5 (current RPI)

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

  • Ally Shipman: .363 BA | 35 R | 49 H | 10 2B | 8 HR | 45 RBI | .615 SLG% | .450 OB% | 5-5 SB
  • Ashley Prange: .358 BA | 37 R | 44 H | 13 2B | 3 3B | 6 HR | 23 RBI | .659 SLG% | .484 OB%
  • Dallis Goodnight: .325 BA | 33 R | 41 H | 3 2B | 1 3B | 1 HR | 8 RBI | .389 SLG% | .397 OB% | 17-19 SB
  • Megan Bloodworth: .323 BA | 14 R | 30 H | 6 2B | 1 3B | 7 HR | 29 RBI | .634 SLG% | .430 OB%
  • Kaylee Tow: .304 BA | 25 R | 35 H | 4 2B | 4 HR | 22 RBI | .443 SLG% | .418 OB%
  • Jenna Johnson: .294 BA | 26 R | 35 H | 5 2B | 1 3B | 4 HR | 22 RBI | .454 SLG% | .372 OB% | 10-14 SB
  • Montana Fouts, SP: 2.07 ERA | 20-4 | 15 CG | 4 SHO | 142 IP | 94 H | 50 R | 42 ER | 43 BB | 228 SO | 20 XBH | 9 HR | .181 Opp BA
  • Lexi Kilfoyl, SP: 2.36 ERA | 9-3 | 8 CG | 3 SHO | 80 IP | 65 H | 35 R | 27 ER | 32 BB | 79 SO | 14 XBH | 7 HR | .218 Opp BA
  • Alex Salter, RP: 2.31 ERA | 4-0 | 1 CG | 1 SHO | 39.1 IP | 38 H | 13 ER | 16 BB | 30 SO | 8 XBH | 4 HR | .257 Opp BA
  • Jayla Torrence, RP: 2.94 ERA | 6-2 | 3 CG | 2 SHO | 52.1 IP | 41 H | 24 R | 22 ER | 29 BB | 46 SO | 10 XBH | 2 HR | .214 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) Last season, in limited plate appearances, she batted .306 | .963 | .625, with 25 RBI and 6 HR in only 72 PA.
  • When We Last Saw Them: Western Kentucky beat the Tide last Wednesday in a midweek game (they are coming off a bye), where they brought the tying run to the plate in the 7th but couldn’t score. Bama outhit WKU, but ultimately lost (their fourth such loss this season).
  • Gone: Alabama is replacing A LOT of production, including grad student trio Bailey Hemphill, with her other-worldly line of .422 BA | 1.359 OPS | .776 SLG% | 14 HR | 57 RBI | 6 K is gone, Alexis Mack (.398 BA | .895 OPS | .441 SLG% | 63 R | 74 H ) and Elissa Brown (.386 BA | .799 OPS | .392 SLG% | 8 K).
  • 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. According to the D1 Fall Report, RP Alex Salter, who redshirted last season, is 5’11” had a great fall.
  • 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 will be inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame on Saturday evening, becoming the HOF’s first ever softball inductee.

OVERALL TEAM COMPARISONS:

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 (for both teams when you take a look, actually), and despite having the same team, there have been some challenges.

According to the SEC’s stat page Mizzou is 8th in BA (up from 10th last week) after being in the cellar literally the entire season, and has scored 100 runs. Since we last checked in, Mizzou has moved to 11th in hits (136) and due to their robust hitting — I like that word today — they’re slugging .496 (6th in SEC).

Some 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 (101). 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.

Individually, five of the Tigers’ starters are at/above .300 in SEC games now: Wert (.340), Wilmes (.328). Honnold (.327), Laird (.295) and Bailey (.275). Raabe is hitting .250, but Chaumont, Daly, and Moore are all or under .200.

Conference Batting Stats as of May 5
SECSports.com

Individually on the pitcher’s mound, Megan Schumacher leads the team in ERA in SEC play at a 2.21 (4th), while Jordan Weber has a 4.34 (up from 3.65 after Sunday’s “off” day) and Laurin Krings has a 4.31. Specs sits at no. 10 in strikeouts (50), while Jo is no. 9 in strikeouts looking (11).

The Tigers sit closer to the top quadrant of the the SEC in ERA with one series left. More things I like to see? Missouri has the third lowest opposing batting avg (.246), and Jo’s .214 Opp BA is 8th in the conference. Schu’s .237 is now 13th, thanks to her great relief stint over the weekend.

SEC pitching as of May 6

ONE FINAL THOUGHT:

“We played well at the beginning of the year,” Anderson said, “But right now we have everything clicking and what I’m seeing is the trust factor. Like they really do believe in one another and they’re trusting what they’re doing. Even when we make mistakes, you can see that they’re picking each other up because they trust that everyone’s bought in.”

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 (which I’ll only be on Saturday, sorry), I’ll also be firing off some tweets from both accounts.