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Ahead of softball’s Black & Gold game, Larissa speaks to Inside Mizzou Athletics.

Mizzou Links for January 31, 2024

Ahead of Mizzou Softball’s black & gold game on Saturday at Devine Pavilion — thanks to Quentin for the reminder about this — let’s see what HC Larissa Anderson had to say on the new episode of the Inside Mizzou Athletics Podcast with Brad Trenago and Matt Michaels.

On the keys to being successful defensively (Mizzou led the SEC last season)

“It comes from philosophy, that we are always going to be one of the top defensive teams in the country. It doesn’t matter if we’re taking a ground ball in Mizzou Softball Stadium, in Devine, in Florida, in the College World Series. It’s still a ground ball. That ball doesn’t have a brain and it doesn’t know where it’s being bounced to, so we have to make sure we are fundamentally perfect and we react to what that ball is telling us to do.”

On the roster (batting):

  • Alex Honnold: “It’s hard to duplicate that kind of [All-American] year, so it’s really not being focused on trying to duplicate it. If the stats are there, that’s great..Probably being more aggressive and having an improved approach into the batter's box... she can’t get consumed with trying to make her weakness the best part of her game. And when the pitcher makes a mistake, she capitalizes on it.”
  • Mya Dodge (UNI transfer, 3rd in nation in RBI): “She’s a very high energy level type of player, offers a lot of tools, extremely energetic. She’s smaller in stature but has a tremendous amount of power, so she’s going to run into one every once in a while. She’s got unbelievable bat speed and she’s great on the bases, but her versatility in the OF, she’s going to be a really good complement playing next to Alex Honnold and being able to cover a lot of ground.”
  • Jenna Laird: “She’s spent a lot of time in the weight room, she’s gotten herself a lot stronger. Being able to add a lot of strength into her offensive power to be able to hit some of those warning track power fly balls out of the ballpark. But also some of those singles might be able to turn into doubles because they’ll get into the gap a lot faster.”
  • Abby Hay (dad played baseball at Mizzou/corner INF, C): “She played baseball all the way up til 10th grade. Her mother played golf at Mizzou. Her mother’s roommate was Stephanie Priesmeyer, who was our women’s golf coach.... It was in 9th grade that she started to play softball. But the difference I see with her than any other athlete I’ve ever coached is her knowledge of the game within the game. So, is it because she played baseball? Probably has a lot to do with it, and probably because of her dad. And growing up around baseball and being huge baseball fan. She understands a lot of the intangibles that I don’t see a lot of softball players come in with. It’s a little next-level intelligence. She’s a tremendous athlete.
  • Madison Walker (Kansas- the state not the school, corner INF): “That is a name you’re gonna hear throughout her entire career and she was KS Gatorade Player of the Year. She’s been absolutely tremendous... she’s extremely powerful in her offense. She can hit both sides of the plate. She’s becoming such a great student of the game as she’s working behind Kara Daly at 3B and competing for 1B. She’s gonna be in the lineup every single day. We’re going to build our lineup around her. They’re gonna do the same thing to her that they did to Crenshaw last season. She started off the season really strong, but when they got the book on her, then they started to expose her weaknesses and get her to chase what she didn’t want to it. So it’s maintaining and having discipline to lay off those pitches and not do too much.”

On the roster (pitching):

  • Laurin Krings: “She’s come into this season with a different level of maturity, knowing it’s her last year. So her level of focus and her concentration is unlike anything that we’ve had here. And her determination, that’s she’s not going to let anything stand in her way. The transition I’ve seen with her is she’s become, rather than just a thrower, she’s become a pitcher. How to manipulate the ball rather than just trying to overpower people and throw by them. With that mentality and that confidence, she’s increased her velocity.
  • CC Harrison: “Cierra had a really good freshman campaign. I really protected her because we had veterans coming out of the bullpen in Jordan Weber, Megan Schumacher (GCU transfer) and Emma Nichols. So I put her into situations that I knew she was going to be successful so she didn’t get her head pounded in as a freshman. We’re going to rely on her heavily this year. She’s really developed and understands her craft.”
  • Taylor Pannell (LHP closer): “Loves that closer role, wants to lead the country in saves so that’s real exciting to put her in that situation”
  • Marissa McCann (freshman): “The one you’re really going to want to watch for. Her story is awesome. She was born and raised in Columbia, MO and spent high school in Arizona and wanted to come back home. The potential she has to eat up innings will be helpful for us... It was her wanting to come back home and knowing she wanted to go to Mizzou more than anything. Got herself on a KC-based travel ball team so she could be exposed to us. At first I thought it was a charity case and I was waving to her in the stands. And then I watched her pitch and was like, OK, THIS KID IS LEGIT. I’d better give her a bit more attention. But she did all the work. It’s a perfect fit.”

On plate discipline (Mizzou led the SEC in strikeouts last year):

“We talked about, let’s reduce our number of strikeouts. But it’s not just that they’re strikeouts. It’s HOW they were strikeouts. If they’re competitive strikeouts, you can live with that becuase the pitching is so dominant, so it’s gonna happen. I don’t want my players to be afraid to strike out because then they’re just going to be tentative and try to put the ball in play. So I want them to have the freedom to try and hit the ball as hard as they can. But now, if they’re chasing borderline pitches, if they’re chasing pitches out of the zone, that’s what we have to address.”

On the changes in the sport and how that impacts the team:

“PItching is dominant, but you’re not seeing the sub-1 ERA any more, but you have to be able to manufacture 3-4 runs and it’s really how you put them together a real complete lineup. And that’s where our weakness was last year; we had our strength at the top of the lineup but from the middle-down, we really weren’t producing as much as we should.

What does success look like for Mizzou Softball this season?

“It’s giving the best effort that they can. I want them to have an unbelievable time doing it. But the letter of the law is to compete. Compete your butt off in everything you do. If it’s in the batter’s box, if it’s pitching, if it’s in the classroom. If it’s games. We have no control over the result, but if we compete all the time and focus on team-first ahead of everything else, then we’re gonna be extremely competitive. Teams start to go through turmoil when they have selfish players, and they’re thinking about their playing time, and what can the game do for ME instead of what can I do for the game? That’s when you have disruption and turmoil.”

On the Black & Gold “blood feud” this weekend:

“I love hearing from the alumni that they have their true ties to one color, black or gold. Laurin Krings and Julia Crenshaw has told me they want to be gold forever. We established our team last week. The players ask the coaches and support staff who they’re picking, so they think we’re gambling on black or gold and that there is favortism on who is going to win. Alex Honnold asked me yesterday after a scrimmage, ‘Who do you got your money on? Black or gold?’ I’m like, I’m not betting on you two. I want it to be competitive. ‘No, but really Coach, when you put the teams together, who do you think is gonna win?’ It’s extremely competitive and they’re extremely loyal to whatever color they’re wearing.”

On to the Links! But first, WAY TO GO, KENNEDY!!!! (LINKS TO MUTIGERS.COM)

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