No. 8/10 Softball Heads West to Open Season

Senior Rhea Taylor leads a Tiger squad that returns 17 players from last year's WCWS team

Senior Rhea Taylor leads a Tiger squad that returns 17 players from last year's WCWS team

Feb. 16, 2011

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The No. 8/10 Missouri Tigers, coming off their second consecutive Women’s College World Series appearance in 2010, open their 2011 campaign at the San Diego Classic I in San Diego, Calif.  The Tigers will face off against five opponents this weekend, two of which are ranked in the top-15 nationally and two others who are receiving votes in both polls.  Missouri opens up play on Friday, Feb. 18 with a doubleheader against Fresno State and No. 13/15 California.  On Saturday they’ll take on the No. 10/11Washington Huskies and No. 22 San Diego State before wrapping things up on Sunday against Sacramento State.

Fresno State enters their second weekend of play with a 2-0 record, as they swept a doubleheader over Sacramento State last Saturday, winning by scores of 5-4 in 11 innings and 7-4.  Junior Michelle Moses was named WAC Hitter of the Week after going 6-for-8 with two home runs, a double, a triple and four RBI in the opening weekend.  The Bulldogs are receiving votes in both major polls.

The Bulldogs return 13 of their 17 letterwinners from last season’s team that finished 41-21 and earned an NCAA Regional bid.  Fresno State is led by Margie Wright, who is in her 26th season as head coach of the Bulldogs.

The Tigers and Bulldogs haven’t faced since 2001.  Fresno State has never lost to Missouri, holding the all-time edge with an 8-0 record.  In 2001, Fresno State won by scores of 2-0 and 3-1.

The Golden Bears went 3-1 in their opening weekend, beating Cal State Bakersfield and Cal State Northridge by run-rule, 14-1 and 8-0 respectively, before falling to Texas Tech by a 5-4 score.  They bounced back on the final day of the Arizona State Tournament to shutout Indiana, 3-0.  Cal currently ranks in at No. 13 in the NFCA/USA Today poll and 15th in the Softball poll.

Led by head coach Diane Ninemire, now in her 24th season with Cal, the Golden Bears went 44-19 in 2010, advancing to the NCAA Super Regionals where they were swept by Georgia.  They return 11 letterwinners from last year and have eight newcomers to this year’s squad.

The Tigers are winless against Cal all-time, as the Golden Bears hold the 2-0 edge.  Both of their meetings came in 1994, with California winning 7-4 and 1-0.

The No. 10/11 Washington Huskies completed a perfect opening weekend, going 5-0 at the Sportco Kick-Off Classic in Las Vegas, Nev.  The Huskie offense stole the show, winning four of the five games by run rule and scoring 88 runs against Illinois-Chicago, UC-Riverside, Mississippi State and UNLV.

Head Coach Heather Tarr is in her seventh season as the Huskie head coach.  Washington returns six of their nine starters in the lineup and two of their four pitchers from last year’s team.  The Huskies advanced to the Women’s College World Series last year and were eliminated in two games.

The Tigers are 1-5 against Washington all-time, with their lone win coming in a 10-8 contest in 2007.

The Aztecs of San Diego State went 4-1 to open things up last weekend, defeating North Dakota State, Utah State and Central Florida before falling to No. 1 UCLA by an 8-2 final at the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament in Los Angeles.  The Aztecs are ranked No. 22 in the Softball poll.

SDSU brings back all four of their pitchers from last season and seven of their 10 starters in the lineup and field.  Head Coach Kathy Van Wyk, now in her 14th season, guided the Aztecs to the NCAA Regionals last year after posting a record of 34-16.

Missouri has beaten San Diego State just once in their three meetings, coming in 2002 by a 4-2 final.  They also dropped a game in 2002 by a score of 4-3, and fell to the Aztecs in 2009, 4-2.  The two squads were set to meet last year in Columbia, but the game was rained out.

Sacramento State went 0-2 in their opening weekend, losing 5-4 (11) and 7-4 in a doubleheader against Fresno State.  
The Hornets return 13 of last year’s letterwinners, including all three pitchers and seven of their starting position players.  They finished the 2010 season with a record of 23-31, but went 13-7 in conference play to finish in second place.  Four of their returners were named All-Pacific Coast Softball selection. Sacramento State is guided by Kathy Strahan who is now in her 19th season as the team’s head coach.  Sacramento State has won both prior matchups against the Tigers, winning twice in 1991 by scores of 2-1.

Each game will have live stats and play-by-play through GameTracker.  Links to each game’s GameTracker can be found at

After this weekend, the Tigers will head to the other side of the country, as they travel to Tampa, Fla. for the University of South Florida Tournament.  Running from Feb. 25 through Feb. 27, Mizzou will face off against Temple, Illinois State, Alabama, South Florida and Western Michigan.

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 entire athletic department at  Assistant Coach Pete D’Amour is also on Twitter at  On Facebook, fans can search “University of Missouri Softball Team” to track down the team’s official page.

The Tigers will have at least two of their games televised this season - both of which are home games at University Field.  On Saturday, April 16, Missouri and Oklahoma’s series-opener will be aired live on Fox Sports Net, beginning at 3:30 p.m. CT.  The Tigers will face off against Texas on Sunday, May 8 at Noon on ESPN.  Missouri was televised six times last season - twice during the regular season and four times in the postseason - and went 2-4 in those games.  Both wins came against Oregon at University Field in the NCAA Super Regionals.

After taking essentially two completely different teams to the Women’s College World Series in 2009 and 2010, the Tigers return a bit of continuity in 2011.  Of their 22 players on the roster, 17 were on the squad last season.  They return three of their four main pitchers and eight of their nine hitters in the lineup.  Here is a statistical breakdown of what Missouri returns offensivelly in 2011:

At Bats:    1424 of 1624 – 87.7%
Runs:    337 of 381 – 88.5%
Hits:    432 of 481 – 89.8%
Doubles:    82 of 89 – 92.1%
Triples:    10 of 10 – 100%
Home Runs:    56 of 62 – 90.3%
RBI:    306 of 342 – 89.5%
Total Bases:    702 of 776 – 90.5%
Walks:    220 of 247 – 89.1%
Hit By Pitch:    39 of 47 – 83.0%
Stolen Bases:    113 of 127 – 89.0%

Returners from last year posted a BA/OBP/SLG line of:
Average:    .303 (team averaged .296 last year)
OBP:      .406 (team averaged .400 last year)
SLG:     .493 (team averaged .478 last year)

The pitching staff returns:
Wins:    41 of 51 – 80.4%
Appearances:    75 of 108 – 69.4%
Games Started:    49 of 65 – 76.6%
Complete Games:    25 of 29 – 86.2%
Shutouts:    12 of 14 – 85.7%
Innings Pitched:    311.1 of 413.0 – 75.4%
Strikeouts:    300 of 373 – 80.4%

Having set numerous single-season Missouri records last year while also breaking the team’s all-time records for stolen bases in a career and runs scored in a career.  This year, she’s got her sights set on a few Big 12 records.  With 141 career stolen bases, Taylor is just 13 shy of breaking the league’s all-time record, held by Sharonda McDonald of Texas A&M at 153.  Taylor is currently eighth all-time amongst Big 12 players with 182 runs scored.  If she keeps the pace set in the first three seasons, she’ll top former Sooner Norrelle Dickson’s record of 234, set back in 2007.  She’s also the league’s all-time batting average leader with a career mark of .419, holding a .010 edge over Ali Viola, a former Husker.  Taylor is also third all-time in triples with 15, putting her 13 shy of tying former Aggie Lisa Klam’s mark set in 2002.

Entering the 2011 season with 188 wins as Missouri’s head coach, Ehren Earleywine is just 12 wins away from his 200th win as a Tiger.  Already the second winningest coach in Tiger history behind Jay Miller (556-309 in 15 seasons), Earleywine is tied for the highest winning percentage for a Missouri head coach at .740.  He’s tied with Barb Wright, who went 91-32 in two seasons for the Tigers.

Missouri senior outfielder Rhea Taylor and sophomore shortstop Jenna Marston have been selected to USA Softball’s Top 50 Watch List for the 2011 College Player of the Year Award.  This award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women’s collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.

For the third consecutive season, the Missouri softball team has been voted as the No. 2 team in the Big 12 Conference, as announced by the league office on Tuesday afternoon.  Oklahoma was picked No. 1 with 79 points and seven of the 10 first place votes.  The Tigers came in second with 71 points and two first place votes, while Texas rounded out the top-three with 69 points and one first place vote.

Team (first-place votes) - Points
1. Oklahoma (7) - 79
2. Missouri (2) - 71
3. Texas (1) - 69
4. Texas A&M - 54
5. Oklahoma State - 50
6. Baylor - 40
7. Nebraska - 33
8. Texas Tech - 26   
9. Iowa State - 15
10. Kansas - 13



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