No. 5 Tigers Open Season on Friday

Nicole Hudson and the Tigers kick off the season on Friday

Nicole Hudson and the Tigers kick off the season on Friday

Feb. 15, 2012

No. 6/5 Mizzou at the Quality Inn Classic

  • Date: Feb. 17-19
  • Location: Troy, Ala.
  • Stadium: Troy Softball Complex (200)
  • Live Stats:
  • Media Notes

The No. 6/5 Missouri softball team opens up the 2012 campaign at the Quality Inn Classic weekend, hosted by the Troy Trojans in Troy, Ala. The Tigers are scheduled to take on five opponents over the course of three days, starting with Ball State and Troy on Friday. Mizzou will then take on Eastern Kentucky and East Tennessee State on Saturday before closing with Nicholls State on Sunday morning.

In 2011, Ball State posted a 34-24 record and finished 13-8 in the MAC. They return 15 letterwinners and five starters from last year’s team, while four hurlers also return. The Cardinals were picked to finish second in the MAC West in the preseason poll. Like the Tigers, Ball State was off last week and is kicking off their season this weekend. One of Ball State’s leading returners is designated player Jennifer Gilbert, who broke the school single-season records for home runs (15) and runs batted in (63). The program’s all-time home run leader, Amanda Montalto, also returns for her senior year. Their top pitcher from 2011, Audra Sanders, also returns this year. She went 18-16 with 156 strikeouts in 200.2 innings pitched. Missouri is 5-1 all-time against Ball State. The two teams last met in Columbia in 2010, where Ball State pulled out a 2-1 victory to snap Mizzou’s 17 game winning streak.

The Troy Trojans opened up their season with a perfect 5-0 start, going undefeated at the Southeastern Louisiana Lion Classic last weekend. The Trojans scored victories over Jackon State, Kansas, Nicholls State, Northern Illinois and Akron over the span of the three-day event. After five games, Troy is hitting .298 as a squad and has a team ERA of 1.40. Leading the offense is Hayden Gann, who is batting .538 with two home runs and five RBI. Ashley Rainey is 2-0 on the year with a flawless 0.00 ERA. She’s recorded 15 strikeouts in 16.2 innings pitched. Sarah Thomas also hasn’t allowed an earned run this year and has a 1-0 record in two appearances. Missouri and Ball State have never faced each other.

The Colonels also open their season this weekend and look to build off their 24-27 record from 2011. They returner 14 letterwinners from last year’s squad, which includes six position starters and three pitchers. The team was picked to finish eighth in the preseason Ohio Valley Conference poll. Eastern Kentucky’s top offensive returner is Diane Gallagher, who was second on the team with a .366 batting average last year. She led the team with four doubles and stole 29 bases. Junior Raquel Howes led the team with 13 home runs and 48 RBI while hitting .309. Pitcher Hannah Driver was tops on the team with a 4.06 earned run average, while Kristin Perry was the team’s leader with 10 wins. Mizzou and Eastern Kentucky have never met.

East Tennessee State went 0-4 in the opening weekend, falling twice to Western Carolina, along with Georgia State and Longwood. The Bucs hit .296 as a squad last weekend, but had a team earned run average of 5.44. Haley Thompson and Alex Everett each went 6-for-12 at the plate, while Thompson drove in three runs and Everett plated a pair. Sam Lower hit .357 last weekend and belted the team’s only run. Shelby Morris saw most of the work in the circle, throwing 12.1 innings and posting a 3.97 earned run average. The Tigers and Bucs have never played each other.

The Nicholls State Colonels went 1-4 last weekend, defeating Akron by a 5-1 score but falling to Northern Illinois, UT-Martin, Troy and Jackson State. The team posted a .250 batting average and a 7.58 ERA in their first week of action. Ashley Ray led the offense, posting a batting average of .538 while hitting three home runs and driving in five. Rachel Moore also hit a pair of home runs for the team, while Ashley Bertot was 4-for-4 in stolen bases. Katie Moulder saw 12.1 innings in the circle, posting a 1-0 record and a 3.65 ERA in four appearances. Missouri and Nicholls State have met four times previously, with the Tigers winning all four contests. The two last met in 2005, where the Tigers scored wins of 6-0 and 11-1 in the season’s opening weekend.

Live stats will be available for each game, and links can be found at Additionally, the official Mizzou Softball Twitter account, @MizzouSoftball, will tweet detailed updates throughout each contest.

Next weekend, Missouri will head to Palm Springs, Calif., for the Cathedral City Classic. Missouri is scheduled to go against a trio of top-25 teams in No. 7/9 Washington, No. 12/8 UCLA and No. 24/22 Nebraska. The Tigers will also take on UC Davis and Northwestern over the course of the weekend. Missouri opens play on Friday, Feb. 24 with UC Davis at 10:30 p.m. CT.

Tiger softball fans can follow along with the season through many of the program’s social media options. On Twitter, Mizzou fans can follow the team’s official account, @MizzouSoftball. Assistant Coach Pete D’Amour is also on Twitter (@MizzouSBcoach). On Facebook, fans can search “University of Missouri Softball Team” to track down the team’s official page.

Season tickets for the 2012 season of Missouri softball are now on sale, starting as low as $50 for adults and $25 for youth and seniors. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Mizzou Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800-CAT-PAWS (228-7297), in person at the Mizzou Arena Ticket Office during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.) or online.

Missouri is 27-8 all-time in season openers and is 4-1 in openers under head coach Ehren Earleywine. Mizzou’s only season opening loss under Earleywine came in a 2-0 defeat in 2008 to Virginia Tech. Last season, the Tigers run-ruled San Diego State by a 9-1 score in five innings. Since 1990, Missouri is 20-2 in season openers, with the other loss coming against Georgia Tech, 11-6, in 2006. That Georgia Tech squad was coached by Earleywine.

With just 10 letterwinners from last year’s squad returning this year, Missouri will have a completely different look in 2012, mainly on offense. Here’s what the Tigers have coming back from 2011:

At Bats: 730 of 1686– 43.3%
Runs: 204 of 363 – 56.2%
Hits: 224 of 498 – 45.0%
Doubles: 51 of 93 – 54.8%
Triples: 2 of 5 – 40.0%
Home Runs: 36 of 67 – 53.7%
RBI: 168 of 327 – 51.4%
Total Bases: 390 of 802 – 48.6%
Walks: 123 of 218 – 56.4%
Hit By Pitch: 16 of 36 – 44.4%
Stolen Bases: 44 of 123 – 35.8%

However, returners from last year posted a batting average/on base percentage/slugging percentage line of:
Average: .307 (team averaged .295 last year)
OBP: .415 (team averaged .385 last year)
SLG: .534 (team averaged .476 last year)

The pitching staff returns nearly everything from last year’s team. The only player who doesn’t return from the stat sheet is Lisa Simmons, who pitched in just one game:
Wins: 52 of 53– 98.1%
Appearances: 62 of 63 – 98.4%
Games Started: 63 of 63– 100%
Complete Games: 45 of 45– 100%
Shutouts: 20 of 20– 100%
Innings Pitched: 423.2 of 425.2– 99.5%
Strikeouts: 537 of 539 – 99.6%

Despite returning only 10 members from last year’s WCWS squad, Missouri reloads with 10 highly-touted freshmen in what is considered to be one of the program’s best incoming classes ever. Joining the Tigers are Alyssa Cousins (Carrolton, Texas), Bailey Erwin (Claremore, Okla.), Taylor Gadbois (Maryville, Mo.), Corrin Genovese (East Amherst, N.Y.), Kelsi Jones (Carmel, Ind.), Kayla Kingsley (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Angela Randazzo (Poway, Calif.), Carlie Rose (Nixa, Mo.), Kelsea Roth (Yorba Linda, Calif.) and Ashtin Stephens (Blue Springs, Mo.).

As a team last year, Missouri was ranked nationally in many major statistical categories. In the final NCAA Rankings, the Tigers were 28th in home runs per game (1.06), 19th in runs per game (5.76), third in winning percentage (.841), fourth in earned run average (1.40), 21st in doubles per game (1.48), 28th in slugging percentage (.476), 22nd in stolen bases per game (1.73) and 14th in fielding percentage (.973)

Individually, the following Tigers were in the top-50 of several categories:
•Ashley Fleming: Tied for 35th in RBI per game (1.00)
•Jenna Marston: 47th in runs per game (0.92) and 44th in walks per game (0.66)
•Kristin Nottelmann: Tied for 31st in saves (3) and 41st in hits allowed per seven innings (4.86)
•Rhea Taylor: Sixth for stolen bases per game (0.70)
•Chelsea Thomas: 1st in earned run average (0.95), tied for 31st in saves (3), tied for sixth in wins (32), seventh in hits allowed per seven innings (3.77), tied for eighth in shutouts (13), 29th in walks allowed per seven innings (1.37), strikeouts (397) and strikeouts per seven innings (10.2)

Missouri has the second longest active streak of consecutive WCWS appearances with three, trailing the Florida Gators, who have made it to the last four World Series. With three appreances in the last three seasons, Missouri (2009-11) is tied with Texas (1998, 2005, ‘06) for second-most WCWS appearances amongst Big 12 schools since the conference was formed in 1996. Oklahoma (2000-05, ‘11) leads the way with six appearances since 1996, while Baylor (2007, ‘11), Texas A&M (2007-08), Nebraska (1998, 2002) and Oklahoma State (1998, 2011) each have two appearances in the last 15 years.

TEAM 2008 2009 2010 2011
Alabama 2008 2009 x 2011
Arizona 2008 2009 2010 x
Arizona State 2008 2009 x 2011
Baylor x x x 2011
California x x x 2011
Florida 2008 2009 2010 2011
Georgia x 2009 2010 x
Hawaii x x 2010 x
Louisiana-Lafayette 2008 x x x
Michigan x 2009 x
Missouri x 2009 2010 2011
Oklahoma x x x 2011
Oklahoma State x x x 2011
Tennessee x x 2010 x
Texas A&M 2008 x x x
UCLA 2008 x 2010 x
Virginia Tech 2008 x x x
Washington x 2009 2010 x



Missouri senior outfielder Ashley Fleming and redshirt junior pitcher Chelsea Thomas have been selected to USA Softball’s Collegiate Player of the Year Top-50 Watch List, as announced Wednesday, Feb. 1 by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA).

Last year, Fleming followed up her breakout sophomore season with an outstanding junior season and was selected as an NFCA Second Team All-American. The Tiger right fielder led the team in almost all major offensive stats, including batting average (.356), doubles (16), home runs (14), runs batted in (62), slugging percentage (.701) and on-base percentage (.452). She also scored 52 runs, walked 26 times and was a perfect 16-for-16 in stolen bases.

Thomas was one of three finalists for this award last season after leading the nation with a 0.95 earned run average. She went 32-8 on the season with 31 complete games, 13 shutouts and 397 strikeouts to just 53 walks in 271.1 innings pitched. Opponents posted a batting average of just .155 against her. Along with being a Player of the Year Finalist, Thomas was a First Team All-American and made the Women’s College World Series All-Tournament Team last year.

A week after being voted as the top Big 12 team in the preseason coaches’ poll, the Missouri softball program earned their highest preseason ranking ever, coming in at No. 5 in the Softball Division I Top 25. The Tigers rank No. 6 in the NFCA/USA Today preseason poll.

The University of Missouri softball team was picked as the top team in the Big 12 coaches’ preseason poll for the first time in program history. The Tigers tallied 59 points and picked up three of the nine first place votes.

Team (first-place votes) - Points
1. Missouri (3) - 59
2. Oklahoma (4) - 56
3. Texas (1) - 50
4. Baylor - 45
5. Texas A&M - 37
6. Oklahoma State - 32
7. Texas Tech - 22
8. Kansas - 13
9. Iowa State -10

For the second straight year, former Missouri outfielder Rhea Taylor and redshirt junior pitcher Chelsea Thomas were named to the USA Softball Women’s National Team, as the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) announced 12 members of the 2012 squad on Jan. 11.

Thomas and Taylor were members of the 2011 USA team that claimed a pair of gold medals, placing first at the World Cup of Softball in July and at the Pan American Games in October. Taylor started in 22 of the 25 games in 2011 and went 23-for-63 (.365) with 24 runs scored and five RBI. She led the 2011 USA Softball Women’s National Team in stolen bases, going 9-for-11. Thomas served as the team’s primarily reliever and threw 41.1 innings, tied for second-most on the team. She posted a 4-2 record and struck out 60 batters, the second highest amongst Team USA’s pitchers.

Incoming Missouri softball player Emily Crane was named as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s 2011 All-Metro Softball Player of the Year. Crane signed her National Letter of Intent to play for Mizzou back in November and will officially join the Tigers for the 2012-13 season.

For the season, Crane hit .563 with 10 doubles, five triples, five home runs and 28 runs batted in, while leading Troy to the Class 4A State Championship. In the team’s semifinals and championship victories, Crane was a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate, driving in a pair of runs while scoring three of her own. Troy defeated Eureka by a 9-5 score in the semifinals before knocking off Blue Springs, 4-1, in the championship.

Projected to play shortstop or center field for Missouri, Crane broke the Missouri state record for career hits with 205, surpassing the old record of 186 set in 2009.

The Missouri softball team announced the signings of two standout high school softball players who have signed National Letters of Intent to continue their playing careers at Mizzou. Joining the Tiger roster in 2010 will be Emily Crane (Troy, Mo.) and Sarah Moore (Chino Hills, Calif.)

Emily Crane | SS/CF | Troy, Mo.
Career high school batting average of .518, on-base percentage of .567 and slugging percentage of .753 ... holds Missouri state records for career hits (205) and career runs scored (168) ... set Missouri single season hits record in 2011 with 63 ... three-time First Team All-State ... four-time FIrst Team All-Conference, All-District and All-Region ... 2010 First Team St. Louis All-Metro ... 2010 and 2011 Conference Player of the Year ... 3.9 grade point average ... National Honor Society member ... received Scholastic Award for Geometry ... sports a perfect attendance.

Sarah Moore | OF | Chino Hills, Calif.
Travel ball team was 2010 National Champions and 2010 ESPN National Champions ... high school squad was 2010 CIF Champions ... was named 2009 Rookie of the Year ... selected as Best Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 ... 2011 Offensive Player of the Year.

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