Opening Day is Friday at Southern Miss for Mizzou Baseball

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Mizzou skipper Tim Jamieson is the only SEC head coach to win 600 games at their current school.</i>
MUTIGERS.COM
Mizzou skipper Tim Jamieson is the only SEC head coach to win 600 games at their current school.
MUTIGERS.COM

Feb. 12, 2013

Game Notes - at Southern Miss Get Acrobat Reader

FIRST PITCH - What You Need to Know
A new era of Mizzou baseball begins this weekend as the reigning Big 12 Tournament Champion Tigers will open its inaugural season as members of the Southeastern Conference at Southern Miss on Friday at 4 p.m. The three-game series will resume Saturday at 2 p.m. before concluding at 1 p.m. Sunday.

#PrayForHattiesburg • Of course, the thoughts and prayers of the Mizzou baseball team are in Hattiesburg, Miss., this weekend after a tornado ravaged the area last Sunday evening. The tornado went right through heavily-populated areas of Hattiesburg, including parts of the Southern Miss campus. Mizzou baseball asks fans tweeting about the games this weekend to please use the hashtag: #PrayForHattiesburg as the community continues to recover from the tragic events last Sunday.

Series History • The Tigers are 3-5 all-time against the Eagles of Southern Miss with the last meeting between the two teams coming in 1999, a 9-5 loss to the Eagles. That is head coach Tim Jamieson's only meeting with the Eagles as the other seven meetings came under the direction of Gene McArtor. The two teams also met in 1993 with Southern Miss taking two of three from the Tigers and the Eagles did the same thing in 1992, taking two of three from Mizzou. Mizzou's only other win against Southern Miss came in 1986, a 7-3 decision.

Recapping 2012 • Of course, Mizzou had a memorable season in 2012, lifting a championship trophy, qualifying for a regional along with several huge wins. Below is a look at a few of the more memorable moments from last season.

    Mizzou Notables From 2012
    • The Tigers won their first ever Big 12 Championship and first league championship since 1980 after winning the Big 12 Tournament, going 4-0 with a pair of wins over ranked opponents.
    • Mizzou advanced to its eighth NCAA Tournament Regional in the last 10 seasons.
    • Head coach Tim Jamieson earned his 600th career victory in the Big 12 Tournament against Texas in the opening round. Jamieson is the only SEC coach to win 600 games at their current school.
    • Five Tigers earned spots on the All-Big 12 teams.

A New Era Begins
2013 marks the beginning of a new era for the Mizzou baseball program as it embarks upon its inaugural season as members of the Southeastern Conference. Widely considered as the premier conference in all of college baseball, Mizzou has fared well against SEC competition in the past, boasting an all-time record of 38-36-1 against the 12 schools that both Mizzou and Texas A&M will join this season. Mizzou played two series against SEC teams last year, taking two of three at Auburn while being swept at Arkansas in a two-game midweek series. As another note, Mizzou head coach Tim Jamieson is the only current SEC coach to win at least 600 games at his current school.

What The Tigers Bring Back
Although the Tigers lost a lot of production from both the lineup and on the mound, Mizzou is very optimistic about what it brings to the table in 2013. In fact, Mizzou brings back its lead hitter from a season ago, its leading home run hitter, its leading slugger and RBI guy, a school record-holder, its top starting pitcher and top lefty reliever. Below is a snapshot of the key returners for Mizzou.

    Batters
    Scott Sommerfeld (OF) - .312 BA, 29 RBI, 2 HR, 1.000 FLD% - Led team in batting in 2012
    Dane Opel (OF) - .283 BA, 46 RBI, 11 HR, .522 slugging % - Led team in RBI, HR and SLG%
    Dillon Everett (2B) - .215 BA, 19 RBI, .969 FPD% - Started all but two games at second in 2012

    Pitchers
    Rob Zastryzny (LHP) - 3.80 ERA, 5-5, 109.0 IP, 76 Ks, 31 BB - Tigers' Friday night starter last season
    Jake Walsh (LHP) - 3.44 ERA, 2-3, 8 saves, 34.0 IP, 23 Ks - 34 appearances led team in 2012

What the Tigers Will Need to Replace
Although the Tigers bring back plenty of pieces to build around, they will be faced with replacing so valuable production from the 2012 roster, specifically at the catcher position. Last year, senior Ben Turner caught nearly every inning for the Tiger and hit in the 3-hole for much of the season. He hit .284 with 28 RBI last season and was durable and valuable behind the plate after serving as the team captain. Mizzou will also need to replace its starting shortstop, Eric Garcia (.271, 35 RBI, 2 HR, .372 OBP and Big 12 Tournament MOP), outfielder Blake Brown (.302, 40 RBI, 10 HR, .520 slugging) and third baseman Conner Mach (.291, 30 RBI, .393 OBP). Turner, Garcia and Brown were all drafted last season.

On the mound, the two most glaring losses for Mizzou are do-it-all starter/reliever Jeff Emens, who led the team with a 2.71 ERA in 86.1 innings pitched last season while boasting a 4-1 record with three saves, and second-team All-Big 12 honoree Dusty Ross (3.00 ERA, 3 saves, 48.0 IP). The Tigers also lost Saturday starter Blake Holovach (5.08 ERA, 79.2 IP, 7-5) as he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners.

Rob Z Is `The Friday Night Guy'
Over the past two seasons, junior lefty Rob Zastryzny entered opening day as the Saturday starter but eventually evolved into the Friday Night Guy during each of the last two seasons. In 2011, he won the Friday night job after Matt Stites started the season in the Friday night spot. Last year, Eric Anderson started the season as the Tiger ace but was sidelined early in the season, once again moving Zatryzny to the Friday night role. This year, Zastryzny enters the season as the Tiger ace. He led the Tigers with 109.0 innings pitched and 17 starts last season and boasted a 3.80 ERA, tops among Tiger starters. He struck out 76 batters and walked just 31.

Anderson Rehab Going Well
Another reason for excitement heading into the season is the rehabilitation of Tiger righty Eric Anderson, who underwent Tommy John surgery on May 16 of last season. In fact, Anderson is expected to be available to pitch opening weekend, less than nine months after having Tommy John surgery. While the Tigers would eventually like to move Anderson back into a starting role, he will be used in a relief role until building his stamina again.

Anderson is a key arm in the Tiger arsenal. In 2011, after he returned from shoulder surgery, he ignited a Tiger team that won four of its last five Big 12 series and took the Tigers all the way to the Big 12 Championship game. That year, the Tigers went 6-1 in games started by Anderson following his return with their only loss coming in the Big 12 Championship game, in which he pitched on short rest. Last year, Anderson made just three starts before feeling discomfort in his elbow which led to him being sidelined until his surgery in May.

New Look Across The Infield
The Tiger infield will have a new look this season at nearly every position, with the exception of second base where returning starter Dillon Everett is expected to start. But beyond that, there has been plenty of competition for spots along the infield during the preseason and look for plenty of new faces. Below is a look at some of the players who could factor in on the Tiger infield.

    Shane Segovia (SS/3B) - Junior - Sinton, Texas
    Last year at Northeast Texas Community College, Segovia hit .295 while guiding his team to a NJCAA Regional appearance. Segovia is expected to be the opening day starter at shortstop for Mizzou. He is also a plus defender at third base and could figure into the mix for Mizzou there.

    Keaton Steele (1B/3B) - Junior - St. Joseph, Mo.
    Steele can do it all for the Tigers and will likely be slotted into the mix at either of the corner spots on the infield. Steele hit .430 with 34 RBI while guiding Iowa Western Community College to a school-record 62 wins and 2012 National Championship. He was named MVP of the NJCAA National Tournament after hitting .389 with four RBI, one homer and two saves, including in the championship game. He also had a go-ahead two-run homer in the title game to go along with the save. Look for him to play at first and third while also coming out of the bullpen for the Tigers.

    Mike McGraw (1B/3B) - Junior - Newman, Ga.
    Mizzou fans are already familiar with McGraw after his insertion into the lineup last season ignited the Tigers' postseason run. In fact, McGraw hit .306 with 17 RBI in just 72 at-bats with 30 total bases as five of his 22 hits went for extra bases. He played in just 22 games last year. Look for him see time at both first and third this season.

    Gavin Stark (1B/3B) - Senior - Lee's Summit, Mo.
    Stark was a regular starter for Mizzou last season and even landed on ESPN's SportsCenter Top 10 with his diving catch against Oklahoma State. But this year, Stark will compete for one of the vacant first base or third base jobs. He hit .167 in 27 games (17 starts) last season with a homer and two RBI.

Other guys that will figure into the mix will be freshman and Tampa Bay Rays draftee Josh Lester and sophomore Nick Moore, both of whom could figure into the mix and third and second base and Kendall Keeton who could occupy one of the middle infield spots.

A Stacked Outfield
Last season, one of the strengths of the Tiger team was the outfield and that again figures to be the case in 2013 as there are six guys competing for time in the outfield this season. Obviously, Mizzou's top two returning hitters - Dane Opel and Scott Sommerfeld - return to the outfield, but there will be plenty of new faces out there this season. Below is a look at the guys who will figure into the mix in the outfield.

    Dane Opel - Senior - Edwardsville, Ill.
    Opel became the first-ever Tiger to lead the Big 12 in home runs during the regular season with his 11 in 2012. He led Mizzou in RBI (46) and slugging (.522) while hitting .283, the second-best returning average on this year's roster. He will likely see time in either of the corner infield spots and as a designated hitter.

    Scott Sommerfeld - Senior - Manchester, Mo.
    Sommerfeld quietly put together a great season for Mizzou in 2012, leading Mizzou in batting average (.312) while driving in 29 runs with two homers. He was also perfect in the field for the Tigers in 2012, although he split time between the outfield and DH spot.

    Brannon Champagne - Senior - St. Charles, Mo.
    Champagne spent much of last year as the everyday center fielder for Mizzou and matched a school record by reaching base safely in 32 consecutive games last season. At the time of that streak, Champagne owned an average of .330 while posting an OBP of .450. But he struggled down the stretch, finishing the season with just a .270 average and an OBP of .374. Champagne is also the Tigers' top returning base stealer as he swiped 12 bags in 15 attempts last season.

    Logan Pearson - Sophomore - Bentonville, Mo.
    Although Tiger fans have yet to see Pearson play in Black & Gold, the coaching staff is very high on Crowder Junior College product. Pearson mashed all fall and during preseason practice and had 41 RBI while hitting .313 last season at Crowder. Despite having a packed outfield, Pearson will likely get his shot this season.

    Sal Belfonte - Junior - Kansas City, Mo.
    Belfonte is one of the best pure athletes on the team and his athleticism and speed will make it hard for Coach Jamieson to keep him out of the lineup this season. Belfonte has played sparingly over the last two seasons but appeared in 28 games last season, including 10 starts. He scored eight runs and drove in four more while stealing four bags.

    Case Munson - Sophomore - St. Charles, Mo.
    An infielder last season, Munson saw limited time but steadily improved as the season went along, earning four starts. He even drove in the game-winning run in a series-clinching win over Texas in the Sunday game of that series with the bases loaded in extra innings. He hit .182 in 22 at bats last season but improved drastically over the fall and winter and he will likely get his shot in the outfield this season as he continues to learn how to play the position.

A Race To Be the Backstop
Another great position battle heading into the season has been at catcher. Last year's backstop, Ben Turner, has graduated and was drafted by the San Francisco Giants after hitting .284 while catching 93-percent of the team's innings. That is quite a hole to fill for Mizzou. So far, the race is between three guys - Dylan Kelly, Patrick Quintanilla and Jake Ivory. Kelly, a transfer from Middle Georgia Community College, led his conference and ranked in the top 15 nationally with a .429 average last season while driving in 33 runs with 12 doubles and a homer. Quintanilla and Ivory both saw limited time in their first season at Mizzou in 2012.

Steele Does it All for Tigers
Despite losing much of its infield to graduation last season, Mizzou has reason for excitement with the addition of junior college transfer Keaton Steele. A 29th-round selection by the Tampa Bay Rays last season, Steele is a great all-around baseball player. At Iowa Western Community College last season, Steele hit .430 with four homers and 34 RBI and guided Iowa Western to a National Championship. His team lost just six games all year. He was named NJCAA Tournament MVP after hitting .389 with four RBI, one homer and two saves, including the championship game. He also had a go-ahead two-run homer in the title game to go along with the save.

Steele will figure to be the starter at either first base or third base this season and has the potential to be a late-inning reliever and possibly the team's closer.

Recruiting Class Garners National Praise
the Mizzou baseball team transitions to the SEC this season, it will be bolstered by a 2012 recruiting that ranks 24th nationally according to Aaron Fitt at BaseballAmerica.com. The Tigers ranked one spot ahead of defending NCAA National Champion Arizona, the same team that eliminated Mizzou from the NCAA Tournament last year. The class, put together by the Mizzou coaching staff includes 19 student-athletes.

Rash Turns Down Major Leagues for Mizzou
One of the key contributors to the Tigers' recruiting class garnering national attention was the addition of Iowa-native Alec Rash. A second-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies, Rash was the highest-drafted high school player to elect to go to school instead of beginning a major league career. While it is unknown what role Rash may fill this season, his power arm will be a welcome addition to Mizzou's pitching arsenal.

Buy Baseball Season Tickets
As the Mizzou baseball program prepares for its inaugural season as members of the nation's premier baseball league, the Southeastern Conference, the Tigers on counting on the support from Mizzou Nation this year. Season tickets for the 2013 Mizzou campaign are still available to the public, and the first 500 fans to purchase season tickets will receive a free Mizzou baseball hat.

At just $60 for adults and $30 for youth, Mizzou baseball season tickets are one of the most affordable packages in the SEC and give fans a chance to see every game at Taylor Stadium for just $2 per contest. A family pass (two adults/two children) is also on sale for just $150.

Little League World Series Connection
When Josh Lester and Ryan Phillips committed to play baseball at Mizzou, they were unaware that they had a unique connection. In fact, both players played in the 2006 Little League World Series and Lester's team won the tournament. Lester and Phillips never met in the series as the two were in different pools, but both remember watching the other play. Lester's team that won the Little League World Series kept that core group of players intact and went on to win three Georgia State Championships while they were in high school.

Tigers Televised Four times Through SEC TV Deal
With the Mizzou baseball program entering its inaugural season as a member of the Southeastern Conference, the program will see four of its games televised to a national audience as part of the SEC's television deal, which is widely accepted as the nation's premier college baseball television package. The Tigers will appear on ESPNU twice while appearing on the SEC Network through Fox Sports for two additional games. Mizzou's only home game as part of the SEC television deal will be on Saturday, March 30, when No. 10 LSU visits Taylor Stadium for a 1 p.m. tilt.

    Televised SEC Games
    • March 30 vs. No. 10 LSU - 1 p.m. - Fox Sports
    • April 6 at Georgia - 7 p.m. - ESPNU
    • April 13 at No. 2 Vanderbilt - 4 p.m. - ESPNU
    • May 11 at Alabama - 1 p.m. - Fox Sports

Ian Kinsler Inducted into Mizzou Hall of Fame
Former Mizzou standout Ian Kinsler was inducted into the Mizzou Athletics Hall of Fame in February. Although he played only one season at Mizzou, Tiger Head Coach Tim Jamieson credits him with being a key figure in helping turn the program around, as he was instrumental in leading Mizzou back to the NCAA Tournament in 2003, after a six-year drought. That 2003 NCAA appearance started a string of seven-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the Tiger program. After transferring to Mizzou from Arizona State and junior college, Kinsler batted .335 for Mizzou in 2003, and was third on the team with six home runs and 45 RBI. He also went 16-of-17 in stolen bases during the season, and was named 2nd-Team All-Big 12 for his efforts.

Of course, most people know Kinsler for his outstanding professional baseball career. After being drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2003, Kinsler made the big league squad in 2006, and promptly won the Rangers' Rookie of the Year award for hitting .286 with 14 homers and 55 RBI. He has since made three American League All-Star teams (2008, 2010, 2012), and hit a career-best .319 in 2008, while he followed that with a career-high 31 homers and 86 RBI in 2009.

Jamieson Signs Extension
The Mizzou Department of the Athletics and Athletics Director Mike Alden announced back in September that a two-year contract extension for Mizzou head baseball coach Tim Jamieson had been reached. The two-year deal will keep Jamieson, who is the school's longest current-tenured head coach, at Mizzou through the 2015 season.

"We're so pleased with the job Coach Jamieson is doing with our program" director of athletics Mike Alden said. "Coming off of the Big 12 Championship, we are looking forward to the challenges ahead in the SEC. Tim, his staff and our students are a tremendous reflection of the core values of the University of Missouri."

Join Tigers on Deck
As the 2013 Mizzou baseball season inches closer, Mizzou students are reminded to join the official Mizzou baseball student section: Tigers on Deck. Mizzou students already receive free admission to every Mizzou baseball game with a student ID, but members of Tigers on Deck will be the beneficiaries of a variety of Mizzou baseball perks, including free pregame tailgates and other great promotions throughout the season, listed below. To join, e-mail MUTigersOnDeck@yahoo.com.

Tigers Have Strong Presence in the Pros
Mizzou baseball has seen plenty of success over the last decade and proof of that is the number of players that the Tigers have sent to the major league. Since 2000, the Tigers have seen 50 players sign professional contracts and 59 Tigers have done so under the direction of Tim Jamieson. Some notable Tigers in the professional ranks include All-Star second baseman Ian Kinsler of the Texas Rangers and Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers and Aaron Crow of the Royals.

On the Air
Once again this year, KTGR ESPN Radio is the radio home of the Tigers, with all of the game being broadcast on 103.1-FM, 100.5-FM and 1580-AM. The games can also be heard online at KTGR.com. Tex Little is in his 23rd season of calling Tiger Baseball and is joined in the booth by Hunter Mense, who is in his third year as part of the MU broadcast team.

Mizzou Network
Video webcast for all Missouri Baseball home games in 2013 is available at mutigers.tv as part of the Mizzou Network. Mizzou Network is the Tiger fans home for live and archived games, along with coaches' shows, press conferences and more. For more information, visit mutigers.tv and click on the Mizzou Network icon.

Up Next
Mizzou will be back in action next weekend as it takes on a Memphis team that took two of three from the Tigers last year at Taylor Stadium. This year's series will be in Memphis as the Tigers will play at 4 p.m. on Friday (Feb. 22), 2 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 23) and 1 p.m. Sunday (Feb. 24).

 

 

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