Feb. 14, 2013
The 2013 season of Mizzou Softball is one of great promise. Ranked as high as seventh in the preseason polls, the Tigers begin play on Friday in sunny Santa Barbara, Calif., where the Tigers will hit the ground running with five games- two against UC Santa Barbara and Fresno State and a game against San Diego. With just three newcomers on this year's roster, Mizzou will look towards its senior leadership, including two-time All-American pitcher Chelsea Thomas (Pleasantville, Iowa), to help guide the squad to potentially a fourth Women's College World Series appearance in five years.
With the season's first pitch Friday morning, MUTigers.com takes an in-depth, position-by-position look, at this season's Mizzou softball team:
Miller Huggins, an early 20th century second baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals once said, "A good catcher is the quarterback, the carburetor, the lead dog... no one gets very far without one." Luckily for the Tigers, in senior Jenna Marston (St. Louis, Mo.), they have one. Marston, a Second Team All-Big 12 honoree for last year's Tigers, started 47 games behind the plate (58 overall), while racking up the team's third-best batting average (.295). She scored 54 runs (fifth-most in a single season for a Mizzou player) and stole 11 bases. Marston also has one of the best eyes for the strike zone in the country, setting a single season school record with 46 walks (0.77 per game - 22nd-best in the nation). Marston was a two-time First Team All-Big 12 shortstop in her first two seasons at Mizzou before making the move behind the plate for her junior season. She was no slouch defensively in 2013, recording a .992 fielding percentage and committing only three errors. Also strong in the classroom, Marston earned First Team Academic All-Big 12 recognition last season.
Backing up Marston, and looking to make an impact in her senior season is Rachel Hay (Kansas City, Mo.). Hay, who is one of five senior leaders on the 2013 team, played in 26 games last season, finishing the year with a .250 batting average (.455 slugging). She belted two home runs and totaled 11 RBI. Hay also recorded a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 81 chances.
Additionally, Alyssa Cousins (Carrollton, Texas) will provide depth after redshirting in 2012. Cousins was a first team all-district catcher for Newman Smith High School.
Returning at first base for the Tigers this season is sophomore Kelsea Roth (Yorba Linda, Calif.). Roth started 53 games at first base for the 2012 edition of Tiger softball and will look to improve upon a freshman season which saw her garner Second Team All-Big 12 honors, as well as being named Big 12 Player of the Week (Feb. 28) following a 6-11 (.545) performance at the Cathedral City Classic. A clutch hitter, Roth belted a grand slam against Iowa State as well as a crucial two-run homer against Illinois State in the opening game of the NCAA Regionals on May 18. With such a powerful bat, Tiger fans will enjoy watching Roth over the next three years.
Senior Lindsey Muller (Stilwell, Kan.) and Hay can also play first base for the Tigers. Muller was the squad's primary designated player last season, appearing in 52 games and hitting seven home runs.
The Tigers feature experience and emerging talent at second base. Sophomore Ashtin Stephens (Norman, Okla.) started 50 games at second base in 2012. She displayed timely hitting in Mizzou's NCAA Regional win last season, singling in a run and drawing a walk in the 2-1 win on May 20. Mizzou will also count on freshman Emily Crane (Troy, Mo.) at the position. The Tiger newcomer helped lead Troy Buchanan High School to the Missouri Class 4A State Championship in 2012.
Mizzou returns sophomore and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Corrin Genovese (Buffalo, N.Y.), as well as senior Princess Krebs (Lithonia, Ga.) at shortstop. Genovese was a highly touted high school recruit who started 60 of the Tigers' 61 games last season. Settling in as the starting shortstop midway through 2012, Genovese displayed her defensive talent by compiling a .965 fielding percentage. In 2013, Genovese will look to continue her success in the field and at the plate, where she led the Tigers in triples and was third in runs scored (40) last season.
Krebs, who can also play in the outfield, started 33 times in 2012 and appeared in 41 total contests. She displayed powered by recording four extra base hits last season, including one home run.
One of the best hitters on the team, Nicole Hudson (Webb City, Mo.) will help to fill the shoes of last year's First Team All-Big 12 slugger and graduated senior, Ashley Fleming. Hudson dominated opposing pitchers last season, hitting at a .301 clip and coming in at second in almost every major hitting category (behind Fleming), including seven home runs and 11 doubles. As one of the senior leaders of this year's Tiger squad, Hudson can help guide this young, talented Tiger softball team towards more postseason success.
Also at third base is the multi-talented Angela Randazzo (Poway, Calif.), who is also capable of playing behind the plate and in the outfield. Randazzo appeared in 50 of Mizzou's 61 games last season and should see similar action this season. She posted a .262 batting average and a very strong .929 fielding percentage over the course of the season.
Sitting in the wings for the 2013 season will be All-SEC Freshman team honoree and current Mizzou sophomore Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.), who will sit out this year's Tiger campaign due to Southeastern Conference transfer rules. As a utility player for Florida in 2012, Fagan appeared in 57 games and reached base safely in 52 games.
A rotation of standout players is expected for the Tiger outfield, including speedy sophomore Kayla Kingsley (Oklahoma City, Okla.) in left field. Kingsley batted .271 in 2012 (fourth-best on the team) while leading the Tigers in stolen bases (12). Kingsley appeared in 45 games last season, including the last 15 games of the Tigers' NCAA Super Regional campaign.
Redshirt freshman Taylor Gadbois (Maryville, Mo.) is expected to start the season in center field. Before redshirting in 2012, Gadbois was a two-time all-state shortstop for Maryville High School.
Sophomore Kelsi Jones (Carmel, Ind.) is slated to get the nod in right field. Jones appeared in 40 games in 2012, including 16 starts.
Also in the fold in the outfield will be junior Mackenzie Sykes (Blue Springs, Mo.). She earned First Team All-Big 12 recognition as a utility player last season and got hot during conference action. She batted .333 with nine runs, two home runs during Big 12 play.
Providing depth in the outfield will be junior Brianna Corwin (Kansas City, Mo.), freshman Sarah Moore (Chino Hills, Calif.) and redshirt freshman Carlie Rose (Nixa, Mo.), along with Hudson and Krebs.
The 2013 Tiger pitching staff is anchored by one of the country's best in Thomas. A redshirt senior, Thomas was the first player in Mizzou history to be named a two-time First Team All-American. Also a two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Thomas finished last season with a 27-9 record and a 1.16 ERA. One of the best to ever step in the circle for Mizzou, she has thrown 11 career no-hitters.
Also on the mound for the Tigers this season will be Bailey Erwin (Claremore, Okla). She finished the 2012 campaign with an 8-0 record and a 1.12 ERA. She held the opposition to a meager .209 batting average. Hudson, Muller and Roth could also see pitching time during the early stretch of the 2013 season.
Missouri opens their season at 10.30.am, CT on Friday against UC Santa Barbara and plays Fresno State at 12:30 p.m. that same day. Fans are encouraged to check MUTigers.com and the softball team's social media outlets, @MizzouSoftball and Facebook, for updates and information throughout the season.