Missouri heads to Lexington to face the Cats for the first time since 2019
When we last checked in on the Missouri softball team, they won 1-of-3 over no.13/14 Georgia over Easter weekend. Want to read some recaps? Game 1 and Games 2 & 3 can be read here. As I mentioned in the final recap, Coach Anderson came away from the weekend more than satisfied with her team’s effort against one of the nation’s top scoring offenses.
“I think our energy and our attention to detail was outstanding the whole way through. I saw individuals continue to get better… I think we just continue to build on this, Anderson said. “Georgia is such an aggressive hitting team. And pitchers are so accustomed to throwing strikes. Like, that’s what they want to do, and when you face an aggressive team, it’s okay to throw water-like pitches and get them to chase at balls.”
Missouri Offense vs UGA: 10 R | 19 H | 2 2B | 7 HR | 6 BB | 17 SO | 14 LOB
Missouri Pitching vs UGA: 8 ER | 17 H | 7 BB | 15 SO
WHEN: Saturday, 4/23 @ 11am | Sunday, 4/24 @ 6pm | Monday, 4/25 @ 6pm
WHERE: John Cropp Stadium, Lexington, Ken.
TV/STREAMING: Sat- SEC+ | Sun/Mon- SEC Network
STATS: Live on StatBroadcast (just scroll down to the event)
I went back in my research as far as 1999, and Kentucky leads the series 11-7 in that timeframe according to the Mizzou history part of MUTigers.com. However, they haven’t actually faced each other since 2019!
MU-UK wasn’t scheduled to play in 2021, and the mid-April 2020 series was canceled (obviously). When the two teams last faced off in 2019, Mizzou swept the Cats in Lexington (YAY). They did not face one another in 2018, but in 2017, the Tigers were swept at home (ew). Between 1999-2016, Mizzou was 4-8, but prior to that is a mystery.**
**Side Note: Paul, the Mizzou Softball SID, claims that Kentucky leads the series 10-9, but we can’t verify this!
2021 RECORD: 42-17 (ranked #8 nationally)
2022 RECORD: 25-17 (5-9 in SEC), 4-6 in away games
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 5th in SEC
RANKING: #31 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #31 (USA Today/NFCA), NR (D1 Softball), NR (Softball America), , #26 (current RPI)
LAST 7 GAMES: #13/14 Georgia (L 3-1 | W 6-2 | L 4-3), @Miss State (W 8-5, 8 inn | L 2-0 | L 9-2), UMKC (W 5-1)
2022 TOP PERFORMERS:
- Casidy Chaumont, OF: .389 BA | 1.137 OPS | 24 R | 35 H | 10 2B | 1 3B | 20 RBI | .722 SLG% | .415 OB%
- Kendyll Bailey, 2B: .349 BA | 1.018 OPS | 12 R | 44 H | 5 2B | 9 HR | 25 RBI | .603 SLG% | .415 OB%
- Jenna Laird, SS: .343 BA | .921 OPS | 32 R | 47 H | 8 2B | 2 3B | 4 HR | 16 RBI | .518 SLG% | .403 OB% | 19-21 SB
- Kim Wert, 3B/OF: .319 BA | .982 OPS | 19 R | 38H | 5 2B | 9 HR | 30 RBI | .588 SLG% | .394 OB%
- Alex Honnold, OF: .293 BA | .863 OPS | 18 R | 34 H | 8 2B | 3 3B | 2 HR | 15 RBI | .466 SLG% | .397 OB% | 3-4 SB
- Brooke Wilmes, OF: .319 BA | .932 OPS | 27 R | 37 H | 1 2B | 1 3B | 11 HR | 24 RBI | .557 SLG% | .375 OB%
- Jordan Weber, SP: 2.94 ERA | 1.12 WHIP | 8-5 | 5 CG | 1 SHO | 90.1 IP | 64 H | 38 ER | 37 BB | 76 K | 26 XBH | 12 HR | 7 WP | 10 HBP | .200 Opp BA
- Laurin Krings, SP: 3.11 ERA | 1.26 WHIP | 12-7 | 8 CG | 4 SHO | 114. 2 IP | 106 H | 51 ER | 39 BB | 142 K | 34 XBH | 16 HR | 9 WP | 7 HBP | .239 Opp BA
- Megan Schumacher, RP: 2.71 ERA | 1.49 WHIP | 4-2 | 49 IP | 55 H | 19 ER | 18 BB | 32 K| 8 XBH | 1 HR | 5 WP | 1 HBP | .276 Opp BA
- The Tigers had a bit of the strikeout bug over the weekend against Georgia’s ace, Madison Kerpics (17 total, 14 against Kerpics), but the good news is, Kentucky hasn’t been known for striking out that many batters (only 57 in SEC play in 15 conference games).
- The school announced on Friday that Brooke Wilmes is Mizzou’s female nominee for the SEC’s H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship for $20K. The Sport Management major working on a masters in Positive Coaching & Athletic Leadership ranks among the Top-10 in Mizzou softball history in hits (3rd), runs (T-3rd), doubles (T-2nd), home runs (T-8th) and RBI (7th). The 2020-21 NCAA Woman of the Year Nominee is also is a six-time Dean’s List honoree, three-time Spring SEC Academic Honor Roll recipient.
- Kendyll Bailey extended her on-base streak to 18 games. She’s hit safely in 13 of 14 games.
- The Tigers need to continue to work on stringing hits together, as they did in their 6-2 victory over the weekend. I’ve expressed previously (as well as Coach Anderson), the need for the Tigers to not rely on the long ball quite so much as solo shots are nice, but they’re even better when others are on base! On that note, the Tigers’ 62 home runs are tied for eighth in program history.
Let’s go in-depth on Mizzou’s next ranked opponent, shall we?
2021 RECORD: 45-18 (14-12 in SEC)
2022 RECORD: 30-11 (9-6 in SEC, 10-5 home games)
LAST 8 GAMES: Eastern Kentucky (W 10-7), @ #6 Arkansas (L 0-8, 6 inn | W 10-7 | L 1-2), @ Louisville (W 9-0, 5 inn), Ole Miss (W 8-2 | W 6-2 | L 6-7)
RECORD VS RANKED TEAMS: 10-13 (W: Liberty, Arizona, Michigan, Alabama, Auburn (2), LSU (3), Arkansas / L: VA Tech, Michigan, Alabama (2), OU, Auburn, Arkansas (2)
PROJECTED CONFERENCE FINISH: 7th in SEC (tie with UGA)
RANKING: #12 (ESPN.com/USA Softball), #9 (USA Today/NFCA), #13 (D1 Softball), #13 (Softball America), , #16 (current RPI)
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Erin Coffel: .434 BA | 1.307 OPS | 30 R | 53 H | 8 2B | 14 HR | 51 RBI | .844 SLG% | .463 OB% | 5-7 SB
- Kayla Kowalik: .409 BA | 1.040 OPS | 40 R | 54 H | 6 2B | 2 3B | 3 HR | 23 RBI | .553 SLG% | .487 OB% | 14-15 SB
- Lauren Johnson: .366 BA | .971 OPS | 39 R | 48 H | 6 2B | 4 3B | 4 HR | 29 RBI | .565 SLG% | .406 OB% | 7-7 SB
- Rylea Smith: .340 BA | .751 OPS | 23 R | 35 H | 3 2B | 7 RBI | .369 SLG% | .382 OB%
- Taylor Ebbs: .320 BA | 1.008 OPS | 16 R | 31 H | 9 2B | 1 3B | 6 HR | 22 RBI | .619 SLG% | .389 OB%
- Renee Abernathy: .311 BA | 1.063 OPS | 29 R | 33 H | 5 2B | 1 3B | 10 HR | 35 RBI | .660 SLG% | .403 OB%
- Miranda Stoddard, SP: 3.52 ERA | 1.28 WHIP | 5-4 | 4 CG | 61.2 IP | 70 H | 31 ER | 9 BB | 30 SO | 21 XBH | 8 HR | 6 HBP | .283 Opp BA
- Tatum Spangler, P: 0.68 ERA | 1.03 WHIP | 6-0 | 31 IP | 21 H | 3 ER | 11 BB | 31 K | 11 XBH | 1 HR | .188 Opp BA
- Sloan Gayan, P: 2.20 ERA | 1.51 WHIP | 4-2 | 1 CG | 35 IP | 35 H | 11 ER | 18 BB | 10 K | 9 XBH | 2 HR | 7 WP | 5 HBP | .252 Opp BA
- Alexia Lacatena, P: 3.35 ERA | 1.35 WHIP | 7-2 | 2 CG | 46 IP | 53 H | 22 ER | 9 BB | 29 K | 25 XBH | 7 HR | .280 Opp BA
- The Bulldogs are led by D1 Softball Preseason Third Team All-American catcher Kayla Kowalik, who also named 2021’s D1 Softball Batting Champion and is a Johnny Bench Award winner. She led the nation last season with a .495 BA (she didn’t drop below. 500 until the regional final), which included 29 XBH, 12 HR, 103 H a .787 SLG %, and 23 stolen bases.
- Erin Coffel was 4-for-4 with 5 RBIs in the win over no. 6 Arkansas this past weekend, and named D1 Softball’s SEC Player of the Week as well as the NFCA/Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week. She was 8-for-12 in four games (.667 BA), including 7-for-10 with two home runs against the Razorbacks. She also was 4-for-4 against Louisville, which included a three-run shot.
- The Kentucky Wildcats are FULL of returning athletes. Their major contributors are the same ones who were there a year ago. The only real question for them coming into this season, according to D1 Softball’s Fall Report, was the pitching.
- Pitching: It appears from the stats the Cats use a bullpen approach to pitching, as not one pitcher has reached 70 IP, and the majority of the staff falls between 31-46 IP. So, yeah… this statement from Head Coach Kara Lawson in the fall report still rings true:
“The pitching is very, very inexperienced right now. We are just trying to figure out who the best pitchers are,” Lawson said. “We don’t have set starters or anything like that, which is a little bit different for us. We usually know we have at least one returner coming back that has a ton of big game experience.”
- Key Additions: Kennedy Sullivan, a transfer from Western Kentucky, who was 9-0 with a 2.40 ERA in 70IP in 2021 and was a helluva batter (.358 BA | 14 HR | 49 RBI). Taylor Ebbs (freshman outfielder) is a former Oregon Gatorade Player of the Year, Alexia Lacatena (freshman pitcher) represented Italy in the Tokyo Olympics.
- Key Losses: Mallory Peyton (.302 BA | 27 R | 45 H | 12 HR | 50 RBI | .644 SLG%), P Autumn Humes (22-9 | 2.94 ERA | 186.2 IP)
- Fun Facts: Per D1 Softball, Tatum Spangler has cashed in on the NIL deals by partnering with Big League Chew! The coaching staff (with the exception of the strength coach) is all women. UK’s softball stadium is one of the best in the country, and cost $9.5 million to construct.
- Head coach: Rachel Lawson has been the head coach of Kentucky’s softball program since 2007. She is the winningest head coach in program history, and has led UK to its first WCWS, 8 Super Regionals in the last 10 seasons, and 50 wins in 2014. She’s won 587 games as head coach, and has coached four NFCA All-Americans in the past decade. (UKAthletics)
OVERALL TEAM COMPARISONS:
First, let’s remember better times… 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, and despite having the same team, there have been some challenges. But there HAS been improvement.
According to the SEC’s stat page Mizzou’s tied for a league worst .224 BA with South Carolina, and has only scored a grand total of 45 runs (the worst by 15 runs). They have 9 less hits than the next worst team. The one bright spot? While the Tigers aren’t hitting the ball a ton, they have struck out the fourth fewest times in the conference (76), though the aforementioned Georgia series wasn’t a great look. Also keep in mind, though, Mizzou has played 5 less SEC games than Alabama/Florida and 2 less (or more) than pretty much everyone else.
Only three of Tigers’ players are hitting around/above .300 in SEC games: Bailey (.381, 12th in conference), Jenna Laird (.298) and Kim Wert (.289). Deters (in limited ABs), is hitting .250, but Wilmes, Chaumont, Raabe and Moore are all hitting .214 or below.
Individually on the pitcher’s mound, Megan Schumacher leads the team in ERA in SEC play at a 2.51 (tied for 7th), while Laurin Krings has a 4.53, and Jordan Weber has a 5.05. Specs is no. 9 in the SEC in strikeouts (41), while Jo is no. 11 in strikeouts looking (8).
The Tigers sit in the middle of the pack(ish) in SEC ERA at this point. Not that long ago, you guys, it was at a 7.92 and Jo’s ERA was 17-something, so… #progress. Things I also like to see? Missouri with the second lowest opposing batting avg, and Jo’s Opp BA sits 11th in conference!
In terms of how Mizzou matches up with its opponent pitching-wise, Mizzou actually leads the SEC in the least number of hits allowed (92 vs UK’s 112), but they are pretty evenly matched in earned runs, runs allowed, and walks. Kentucky has given up 34 doubles (last) vs. Mizzou’s 16 (4th), and — this should come as a surprise to no one — Mizzou have given up 20 dingers (only 8th in SEC) vs. Kentucky’s 16 (3rd).