Well, well, well... here we are. The final tune-up before Mizzou heads back to CoMo for the home opener against Kansas City mid-week, followed by the SEC opener against Kentucky. Before we get to the matchups, let’s reexamine how the Tigers did last weekend in Cali. Three of the Tigers’ five games were all shortened via run-rule, as Mizzou beat Cal Poly, BYU (who was receiving Top 25 votes at the time), and Long Beach State by large margins. However, they also lost close games to preseason #23 & WCWS darlings Oregon State and to #22/24 Oregon.
Checking in from Stillwater, Oklahoma. #OwnIt #MIZ pic.twitter.com/rxD6gtp6pm— Mizzou Softball (@MizzouSoftball) March 3, 2023
2022 RECORD: 38-22, 12-11 (7th in SEC)
2023 RECORD: 12-4
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 8th in SEC
LAST 5 GAMES: Long Beach State (W 9-0 in 6 inn) | no. 22 Oregon (L 6-4) | Oregon St. (L3-2) | BYU (W 11-3 in 5inn) | Cal Poly (W 9-1 in 5inn)
RANKING: #23 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #24 (NFCA), #24 (D1 Softball), #23 (Softball America)
2023 TOP OFFENSIVE PERFORMERS:
- Alex Honnold: .538 BA | 1.718 OPS | 21 R | 21 H | 6 2B | 1 3B | 4 HR | 20 RBI | 1.051 SLG% | 16 BB | .667 OB% | 10 SB
- Jenna Laird: .418 BA | 1.039 OPS | 18 R | 23 H | 4 2B | 2 3B | 15 RBI | .564 SLG% | .475 OB% | 11 SB
- Maddie Snider: .409 BA | .976 OPS | 9 R | 9 H | 7 RBI | .409 SLG% | 7 BB | .567 OB% | 7 SB
- Julia Crenshaw: .354 BA | 1.210 OPS | 12 R | 17 H | 6 2B | 5 HR | 20 RBI | .792 SLG% | .418 OB%
- Riley Frizell: .313 BA | .983 OPS | 9 R | 15 H | 2 2B | 1 3B | 3 HR | 12 RBI | .583 SLG% | .400 OB%
- Kelsee Mortimer: .429 BA | 1.012 OPS | 7 AB | 2 R | 3 H | 2 RBI | .429 SLG% | 4 BB | 0 SO | .583 OB%
2023 PITCHING STATS:
- Laurin Krings: 2.70 ERA | 3.97 xFIP | 1.29 WHIP | 5-1 | 36.1 IP | 3 CG | 1 SHO | 36 H | 16 R | 14 ER | 11 BB | 26 K | 12 XBH | 5 HR | .304 Opp BA
- Cierra Harrison: 2.75 ERA | 2.69 xFIP | 1.08 WHIP | 3-0 | 20.1 IP | 16 H | 8 ER | 6 BB | 29 K | 7 XBH | 3 HR | 0.208 Opp BA
- Jordan Weber: 3.60 ERA | 3.69 xFIP | 1.24 WHIP | 3-3 | 23.1 IP | 1 CG | 24 H | 15 R | 12 ER | 5 BB | 17 K | 10 XBH | .264 Opp BA
- D1 Softball Top 80 Freshmen Names to Know: Cierra Harrison, P
- Co-SEC Player of the Week: Alex Honnold (2/20)
- Jenna Laird: 2023 USA Softball Collegiate POY Watchlist, 2023 Preseason All-SEC, no. 14 on D1 Softball SEC Power Rankings, No. 8 SS in D1 Softball Top 100; 2023 NFCA Leadoff Classic All-Tournament Team
- Offense, offense, offense! The team is currently slashing at a rate of .322 BA /.965 OPS /.539 SLG/.426 OB%. They’ve already got 25 doubles on the season and 16 home runs. They are also hitting well with runners on base... which I can’t pull up now because you can’t see that data in archive mode.
- Kara Daly, though hitting below .300 on the season, launched a grand slam against Cal Poly in the Tigers’ first game of the weekend, her third HR of the year. Riley Frizell smashed a two-run shot of her own in the BYU win, and Julia Crenshaw added two.
- Since LF Chantice Phillips has been out — she’s currently in concussion protocol — Maddie Snider has been filling in more than admirably in LF. I’ve loved seeing what the little-used players from last season have to offer. Maddie is a perfect example, as last year so filled in as a pinch runner. She’s had tremendous plate discipline thus far, accumulating 7 walks in 22 at-bats, and only 4 strikeouts.
High praise for Rock Bridge alum Maddie Snider from #Mizzou softball coach Larissa Anderson today: "She's really come through for us." @rbhsbruinbear @SoftballRb @MaddieSnider6 pic.twitter.com/IlrUxLOV1k— Nathalie Jones (@NathalieABC17) February 27, 2023
- Plate Discipline: The Tigers also already have 59(!) walks this season, and had 19 more in the weekend’s five game slate. Alex Honnold is a walk MACHINE (26.3 BB%) and has more than double (15) than that of her teammates: Snider (7 at 21.9%); Laird & Frizell (5); Daly & Mortimer (4). In limited ABs for Hollingsworth and Mortimer (18 total), this is impressive. Morty’s BB% is 33.3!
- PITCHING: The Tiger pitchers seem to be giving up an awful lot of extra base hits and home runs early in the season, and over the weekend it led to Missouri’s loss against no. 22 Oregon. The Tigers were up 2-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning before Jordan Weber allowed back-to-back solo shots to put the Ducks ahead for good. Specs and CC, for instance, have 13.5% and 17.6% home run to fly ball ratios, which seems kinda high, but proves my point. Additionally, the D1 Softball data isn’t showing a huge proclivity of ground balls over fly balls or line drives, so it seems like contact is just that— contact, which is further evidenced by the trio’s .289-.292 BABIP. However, just because they are allowing baserunners doesn’t mean they’re scoring. CC and Specs’ LOB% are both very high, as 85.1% and 82.5%, respectively, and neither Jo’s (60.5%) or Schuey’s are bad either (64.5%).
- Data has shown us that both Jo and Krings are slower to really get going, and we should (we hope, at least) expect them to get it together soon. Both are strikeout pitchers, but haven’t done a ton of striking out so far this season, each having a rate of 17.2%. Harrison, the rookie, leads the staff with 34.5% strikeouts.
How Mizzou Matches Up
Let’s go in-depth on Mizzou’s opponents this weekend, shall we?
WHEN: Friday, March 3 at 12pm and Saturday, March 4 at 2:30pm
TV/STREAMING: YouTube Live (Game 2- Saturday only)
STATS: Game One | Game Two
2022 RECORD: 8-37 (4-12 in America East)
2023 RECORD: 4-5
LAST 5 GAMES: Chattanooga (W 5-4) | Indiana St. (L 0-8) | W. Illinois (W 5-4, 8 inn; W 8-1) | Marshall (L 0-16, 5 inn)
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in America East
2023 TOP PERFORMERS:
- Kelby Drews: .435 BA | 1.030 OPS | 23 AB | 3 R | 10 H | 1 XBH | 3 RBI | .478 SLG% | .552 OB%
- Grace McGouldrick: .296 BA | .702 OPS | 27 AB | 6 R | 8 H | .296 SLG% | 4 BB | 7 SO | .406 OB% | 8 SB
- Gabby Papushka: .294 BA | .762 OPS | 17 AB | 3 R | 5 H | 1 XBH | 2 RBI | .353 SLG% | 2 BB | 9 SO | .409 OB%
- Izzy Neiblas: .292 BA | .831 OPS | 24 AB | 2 R | 7 H | 3 XBH | 7 RBI | .417 SLG% | 5 BB | 7 SO| .414 OB%
- Caitlyn Fallon: 3.64 ERA | 5.51 xFIP | 1.40 WHIP | 3-2 | 1 CG | 25 IP | 20 H | 15 R | 13 ER | 15 BB | 10 SO | 5 XBH | .220 OppBA
- Alysen Rieth: 5.25 ERA | 4.20 xFIP | 1,67 WHIP | 1-1 | 17.1 IP | 23 H | 17 R | 13 ER | 6 BB | 13 SO | 7 XBH | .307 OppBA
It does not appear that Maine and Missouri have ever faced each other!
- DEPARTED: Per the team’s website, only 12 players return from the 2022 roster, but the best of whom appears to be Keely Clark (.294/.715/32H).
- OFFENSE: Kelby Drews, who led the team last year in every statistical category, is off to a good start again this season, already earning America East Player of the Week honors February 14, and Izzy Nieblas is right on track as well, though she strikes out a lot— 24.1 % of the time she’s at bat— per D1 Softball. Jasmine Gray, who hit .307/.805 last season, is off to a poor start, and only has 2 hits in 22 AB. Gabby Papushka has a team-high .556 BABIP, so she’ll be one to watch should she make contact — her GB% and LD% are both at 37.5%, but oh boy is she prone to a strikeout. She’s striking out at a truly alarming 40.9% rate.
- PITCHING: Per D1 Softball, Alysen Rieth is primarily a ground ball pitcher, with 61.3% of contact coming on the ground vs 21% fly balls. Her BABIP (BA on balls in play) is at .355, so if you can get a hit, you seem likely to get on base. But, only half of those on base will get home. As for Caitlyn Fallon, she’s got a 50% GB rate vs 28.8% fly balls. Her BABIP is much lower at only .213, so luck isn’t always going to be on your side just because you hit it, and if you do get on base, chances are you’re getting stranded as her LOB% is 77.9. One other thing to note about Fallon, her walk rate is 13.9%, and she’s walking people more than she’s striking them out by 4.6%.
- STAFF: Jordan Fitzpatrick was named the new head coach of the University of Main in August 2021. She had been the assistant since November 2015, primarily working with the pitching staff. Before taking on a coaching role, she also was a player on the team, competing as a student-athlete from 2007-10.
WHEN: Friday, March 3 at 5pm
2022 RECORD: 48-14 (14-4 in Big 12)
2023 RECORD: 13-1
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 2nd in Big 12
LAST 5 GAMES: UTEP (W 10-6) | NM State (13-0 in 5inn) | CSU-B (11-0 in 5inn) | Nebraska (W 3-1) | New Mexico (W 12-1 in 5inn) | no. 25 Michigan (W 15-6 in 6 inn)
RANKING: #3 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #3 (NFCA), #3 (D1 Softball), #3 (Softball America)
2023 TOP OFFENSIVE PERFORMERS:
- Rachel Becker: .579 BA | 1.462 OPS | 17 R | 22 H | 7 XBH | 5 RBI | .789 SLG% | 10 B | .673 OB%
- Tallen Edwards: .442 BA | 1.231 OPS | 17 R | 19 H | 6 XBH | 3 HR | 14 RBI | .721 SLG% | 6 BB | .510 OB%
- Kiley Naomi: .410 BA | 1.366 OPS | 17 R | 16 H | 7 XBH | 5 HR | 19 RBI | .846 SLG% | 7 BB | 5 SO | .520 OB%
- Katelynn Carwile: .410 BA | 1.279 OPS | 9 R | 16 H | 10 XBH | 1 HR | 16 RBI | .769 SLG% | 8 BB | 5 SO | .510 OB%
- Chyenne Factor: .400 BA | 1.094 OPS | 13 R | 14 H | 3 XBH | 11 RBI | .571 SLG% | 6 BB | .523 OB%
- Micaela Wark: .367 BA | 1.205 OPS | 8 R | 11 H | 5 XBH | 3 HR | 11 RBI | .733 SLG% | 5 BB | 4 SO | .472 OB%
- Morgyn Wynne: .359 BA | 1.042 OPS | 5 R | 14 H | 4 HR | 17 RBI | .692 SLG% | 4 SO | .350 OB%
- Megan Bloodworth: .344 BA | .995 OPS | 10 R | 11 H | 3 XBH | 6 RBI | .563 SLG% | .432 OB%
- Kelly Maxwell: 1.53 ERA | 0.81 WHIP | 5-0 | 4 CG | 2 SHO | 32 IP | 14 H | 7 ER | 12 BB | 58 SO | 3 HR | .133 OppBA
- Lexi Kilfoyl: 2.41 ERA | 0.98 WHIP | 2-0 | 1 CG | 20.1 IP | 17 H | 7 ER | 3 BB | 19 SO | 4 HR | .227 OppBA
- Ivy Rosenberry: 2.80 ERA | 1.13 WHIP | 2-1 | 1 CG | 15 IP | 14 H | 11 R | 6 ER | 3 BB | 11 SO | 2 HR | .237 OppBA
Between 2000 and 2020, Mizzou and Oklahoma State faced each other 33 times, with the Tigers holding the overall edge, 23-10 in that 20-year span. In total though, per SID Eric Mueller, they have played 102 times, with OSU leading pre-2020 48-21. Overall, this means OK State holds a 58-44 lead in the series.
The Tigers and Cowgirls last faced off against one another in February 2020 in Clearwater, and #18 Mizzou was victorious over #16 Oklahoma State, 3-2.
The Cowgirls’ pitcher, Kelly Maxwell, who’s still on the roster today and killing it, took the L. Current Tigers Megan Moll, Hannah McGivern, Emma Nichols (as a DP!) and Megan Schumacher, all played in this one. Schuey pitched 6 innings in that one, allowing 7 hits and 1 earned run to go with 3 walks and 4 strikeouts.
- Kelly Maxwell: 2022 Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Year; 2022 unanimous First Team All-American; 2021 First Team All-Big 12
- 2023 Preseason All-Americans: Kelly Maxwell (1st Team, D1 Softball & Softball America); Rachel Becker (D1 Softball 2nd Team)
- Aubrey Evans: D1 Softball Top 80 Freshmen Names to Know
- OFFENSE: Talk about a STACKED lineup, my god. It’s incredible. Just up and down the order.... wow. And in the circle. This team is good. Really, really good. They had the second-highest number of homers in the country last year (behind that other Oklahoma team) with 69. They also don’t strike out much, with the heavy hitters (Becker, Edwards, Naomi) all striking out at under 10% of the time. Edwards is a tiny little 2%.
- D1 Softball’s Tara Henry named SS Kiley Naomi one of its breakout stars, writing:
The sure-handed shortstop for Oklahoma State is one to keep an eye on heading into the 2023 season. After a year of trial and tribulations, the graduate infielder is primed and ready to build on what we witnessed back in the 2021 season. It may be unfair to categorize Naomi as a ‘breakout star’ considering the OSU veteran has turned 46 career double plays, which stands alone as the program record. But, hey, we can do what we want and expect to see big things out of Naomi this season.
- Last season, the Cowgirls lost in the semifinals of the Women’s College World Series. This was their third consecutive appearance in the WCWS, and last year were able to beat the Sooners to take the regular season conference crown.
- PITCHING: Somehow, RS-Sr. Kelly Maxwell keeps getting better. She had a breakout season in 2022, and threw 5 no-hitters, 12 shutouts and a perfect game. And she almost doubled her single season strikeouts (313). She led Division I softball in allowing an average of only 3.51 hits per game, to go with forcing 11.58 K/7. So not only does OK State have Maxwell, but they also brought in Alabama transfer Lexi Kilfoyl, who had a 28-11 record for the Tide to go with a 2.06 ERA and 267 SO in 54 appearances.
- The staff led the Big 12 in ERA (1.86) and led the Big 12 in strikeouts (557) a year ago. Maxwell is currently striking out almost 50% of the batters she faces (47.5%), and has under a 10% walk rate.Kilfoyl is striking out 19.8%, with an even smaller walk rate (3.7%). Maxwell, Kilfoyl and Rosenberry (and actually, ALL of OK State’s pitchers, ha) have under .300 BABIP. Even more terrifying, should you get on base, you’re not likely to get home, as Maxwell and Kilfoyl strand 89.1 & 91.5% of them. Yay!
WHEN: Saturday, March 4 at 2:30pm and Sunday, March 5 at 1pm
TV/STREAMING: ESPN+ (both games)
STATS: Game One | Game Two
2022 RECORD: 18-30-1 (7-9-1 in American Athletic Conference)
2023 RECORD: 7-8
LAST 5 GAMES: SIUE (W 8-3 & W 8-0) | Southern Miss (W 4-2) | Alcorn State (W 15-0) | Jacksonville St. (L 0-1)
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in AAC
2023 TOP PERFORMERS:
- Haley Morgan: .469 BA | 1.026 OPS | 17 R | 23 H | 4 XBH | 8 RBI | .571 SLG% | 2 BB | .455 OB% | 5 SB
- Imani Edwards: .333 BA | .818 OPS | 9 R | 16 H | 3 XBH | 5 RBI | .458 SLG% | 2 BB | 7 SO | .360 OB% | 6 SB
- Kailyn Bearpaw: .308 BA | .711 OPS | 3 R | 12 H | 1 XBH | 8 RBI | .333 SLG% | 5 BB | .378 OB%
- Celeste Wood: .279 BA | .880 OPS | 8 R | 12 H | 4 2B | 2 3B | 12 RBI | .465 SLG% | 8 BB | 7 SO | .415 OB%
- Maura Moore: 2.69 ERA | 1.18 WHIP | 4-2 | 5 CG | 39 IP | 36 H | 15 ER | 10 BB | 24 SO | 12 XBH | 6 HR | .242 OppBA
- Kylee Nash: 3.14 ERA | 1.46 WHIP | 3-4 | 2 CG | 42.1 IP | 43 H | 23 R | 19 ER | 19 BB | 36 SO | 9 XBH | .259 OppBA
- Hailey Morgan: #8 in D1 Softball AAC Power Rankings
- 2022 All-AAC Honorees: Abby Jones (2nd Team); Kailyn Bearpaw (All-Rookie); Celeste Wood (All-Rookie)
According to my research, which goes back to 2000, Mizzou and Tulsa have faced each other twice in their history, both in 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. Tulsa took the first game, winning 9-1 in 5 innings, while the Tigers took the second, 6-5. However, Mizzou SID Eric Mueller shared that they’ve actually played 7 times, with Mizzou leading the series, 6-1.
- The Golden Hurricane is looking to get back on the right track after going 2-3 a week ago in the South Alabama Invite. This weekend will mark their first home games of the season, and fan support is high. Tickets for their games against Oklahoma (4/26) and Oklahoma State (3/29) are sold out, as are their season tickets and mini-plans, per their website.
- Tulsa is a young team, with 7 of their 8 fielding positions returning. They add 9 newcomers this season, including 4 transfers, a few of which I’ll mention below.
- OFFENSE: Haley Morgan is the team’s statistical leader, with her .442 BABIP and only a 1.8% strikeout rate, but Imani Edwards is doing quite well, too. She’s got a .390 BABIP, but an almost equal strikeout (13.2%) to walk (15.1%) rate. She has hit safely in Tulsa’s last 11 games and has 7 multi-hit games. Abby Jones is off to a less-than-stellar start, only batting .154 in 39AB. but another All-Rookie honoree a season ago, Kailyn Bearpaw, is doing better than a season ago, when she hit. 264.
- PITCHING: Maura Moore, who transferred in the offseason from Crowder College (JUCO) is the ace so far this season, and is stranding runners at an 81.3% rate. The NJCAAA All-American is also only allowing a .250 BABIP, so while the Tigers are sure to get her one of the games this weekend, they’ll likely face Kylee Nash in the other game and Riley Grant in relief. Grant walks 26.5% of the batters she’s faced, also allowing a .348 BABIP, which should delight the Tigers, who get on base with ease and love a good walk. Nash is the only returnee from a season ago, so they’ve got a pretty green staff.
- STAFF: Crissy Strimple is in her fourth season at the helm of the Golden Hurricane, after spending 14 seasons in the dugout as a player and an associate head coach. Her specialty is infield defense and has contributed to two record-setting seasons in fielding percentage and fewest errors.