Feb. 24, 2010
Friday, Feb. 26
vs. No. 4 Michigan - 10 a.m. CT
vs. Virginia Tech - 5:30 p.m. CT
Saturday, Feb. 27
vs. No. 18/20 Louisiana Lafayette - 11 a.m. CT
vs. No. 20/24 Massachusetts - 1:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, Feb. 28
vs. Radford - 9 a.m. CT
The Missouri softball team, coming off a split with No. 2 Arizona, come in this week ranked No. 6 in the USA Today/NFCA poll and tied for No. 4 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. The squad will play five games in three days this weekend as they head to Columbus, Ga., for the 2010 NFCA Leadoff Classic. With 23 teams in total invited to the event, the Tigers will be put up against some of the nation's top programs. Four of the five teams that MU plays this won their conference in 2009. Kicking off the weekend tournament, Mizzou will be pitted against No. 4 Michigan, who the Tigers are tied with in the ESPN.com poll, in the opening game on Friday, Feb. 26. Later that day, Missouri will take on Virginia Tech. On Saturday, the Tigers have a twin-bill with No. 18/20 Louisiana-Lafayette and No. 20/24 Massachusetts, before closing out with an early-morning matchup against Radford on Sunday.
The tournament itself, now in its 15th year, features seven ranked teams and three teams receiving votes in the most recent USA Today/NFCA poll. Fifteen of the teams made it to the postseason last year, with four qualifying for the NCAA Super Regionals and three advancing to the WCWS. The South Commons Stadium and Complex, the home of the event, holds eight fields within its confines. The facility served as practice fields for softball teams during the 1996 Olympic Games.
Follow the Games
Live stats and score updates will be provided for all five games at mutigers.com.
Scouting the Wolverines
Michigan enters the tournament boasting a No. 4 national ranking in both polls with a record of 6-2. UM opened the season at the NTC Division I Elite Invitational in Clermont, Fla. Michigan went 2-1 on the weekend, after their first two games were canceled. They knocked off Chattanooga in five innings, and upended No. 5 UCLA 4-2. Their lone loss came at the hands of No. 8 Georgia, 6-4. Last weekend the team played in the Tiger Classic hosted by No. 18 LSU. The Wolverines went 4-1, including a 2-0 win over LSU.
Senior Maggie Viefhaus leads Michigan offensively, as she enters the tournament with a team-leading .520 batting average. Along with one home run and eight RBI on the year, Viefhaus is slugging .760 on the campaign. In the circle, back-to-back Big 10 Pitcher of the Week Jordan Taylor has gotten out to an incredible start to the season. With a record of 5-0, Taylor has posted a 0.37 ERA in 38.0 IP, striking out 56 and walking just four. Last weekend, she threw a complete game no-hitter against Big 12 opponent Oklahoma State.
The All-Time Series
Missouri is 3-2 all-time in five games with the Wolverines. The two teams first met back in 1991, with Mizzou claiming a 3-0 victory. Michigan recorded a 3-2 win in 1998 and a 1-0 win in 2001, while Mizzou won 11-5 in 1997.
Last Time They Met
The last time these two teams faced off was at the Strawberry Cup tournament in 2002, held in Plant City, Fla. Missouri was able to pull off a big upset, beating the No. 12 Wolverines by a 2-1 final.
Scouting the Hokies
After jumping out to a 3-1 record at the season-opening Jacksonville University Tournament, the Hokies have struggled as of late, mustering losing their last four games entering the Leadoff Classic. In those four losses, Virginia Tech has mustered just three runs. Two of those losses came at the hands of No. 8 Georgia at the Bulldogs' Red & Black Showcase Tournament. The young Hokie squad has seven freshmen on the roster this year and only three seniors.
Offensively, two freshmen are contributing heavily for the Hokies. OF Whitney Davis leads all VT hitters with a .483 batting average, while catcher Courtney Liddle has hit three home runs and three doubles already this season to amass a .741 slugging percentage. On the mound, freshman Jasmin Harrell has gotten the majority of the work, pitching 24.2 innings. In seven appearances, Harrell has struck out 22 batters and walked just two while posting a 3.12 ERA and a 3-1 record.
The All-Time Series
In three previous meetings, the Tigers have taken two wins against Virginia Tech. All three meetings have come in the past two seasons, with Virginia Tech winning the first matchup, 2-0 in 2008. Later that year, Missouri evened the series with a 2-1 victory.
Last Time They Met
The Tigers last met up with Virginia Tech during last season's opening day. Playing their second game of the day at the Georgia State First Pitch Classic, Mizzou scored early and often, run-ruling the Hokies, 10-0. Chelsea Thomas threw a one-hitter for the Tigers in her first career start, while former Tiger Julie Silver went a perfect 4-4 on the day with three RBI and two runs scored.
Scouting the Ragin' Cajuns
The No. 18/20 Ragin' Cajuns head to the Leadoff Classic for their third tournament in as many weeks, putting together an 8-2 record in the first two weeks. Hosting the 24th Annual Louisiana Classic, UL-Lafayette won the tournament with a perfect 5-0 record, run-ruling Bryant University and beating both Bradley and Syracuse two times apiece. Last weekend, the team traveled to Houston, Texas for the Houston Marriott Classic. Going 3-2 in the tournament, ULL's only two losses this season came to host Houston, 2-1 in extra innings, and to No. 14 Texas, 7-1.
UL-Lafayette brings in an offensive attack that features five players hitting over .300 on the season, led by senior Lana Bowers. The catcher/first baseman leads all Cajuns with a .371 batting average with two homers and nine RBI. Five of sophomore Christi Orgeron's seven hits this season have been home runs, as she's picked up 12 RBI in the process. Senior Brittany Cuevas and junior Donna Bourgeois have split time in the circle, with each getting five starts. Cuevas is a perfect 4-0 on the season with a 2.33 ERA, while Bourgeois has a 1.22 ERA to go with her 3-2 record. The two have combined for 80 strikeouts and just 12 walks this season.
The All-Time Series
ULL and Mizzou have faced off just once, with the Ragin' Cajuns winning the matchup by a 1-0 final back in 2004. ULL, hosting the Mardi Gras Classic and ranked No. 10 at the time, recorded a base hit and a run in the top of the seventh to secure the victory. The hit by ULL in the seventh was the only hit by either team in the game, as the Tigers were no-hit on the day.
Scouting the Minutewomen
UMass returns to action this weekend having not played since Feb. 14. Ranked No. 20/24 in the country, the team traveled to Miami, Fla., during the opening weekend for the FIU Combat Classic, going 4-1 over the three-day event. The Cajuns knocked off Providence, N.C. State, Illinois-Chicago and host Florida International, but fell by run-rule to Southern Illinois, 12-2.
Following their opening weekend of play, Massachusetts swept the Atlantic 10 Conference awards. Senior Sarah Reeves hit .571 in their first five games. Five of her eight hits went for extra bases, four doubles and a home run, giving her a slugging percentage of 1.071. Sophomore pitcher Sara Plourde went 3-0 in the tournament with a 1.84 ERA. In 19 innings, Plourde struck out 37 batters - almost two an inning - while walking only eight.
The All-Time Series
Mizzou owns the edge over UMass all-time, winning all four of their previous meetings. The Tigers cruised to a 6-0 victory in the first meeting between the two schools, back in 1991. MU has outscored UMass 16-4 in the four meetings, with Missouri winning 4-3 in 1993, 5-1 in 2001, and 1-0 in 2002.
Last Time They Met
The last time these two programs met was actually at this very same event. Missouri and UMass opened the 2002 Leadoff Classic against each other, with the Tigers taking a 1-0 victory over the No. 25 UMass Minutewomen. Though they only managed two hits on the day, the Tigers were able to push across the lone run of the game in the fifth inning, aided by a UMass throwing error.
Scouting the Highlanders
Radford enters the Leadoff Classic without having played a game this season, though they are coming off a conference championship and NCAA Regional berth in 2009. RU's season opener against Virginia Tech was postponed due to rain.
One of just four teams in all of NCAA Division I softball to win 40-plus games each of the past four seasons, the defending Big South Champions were selected to repeat as conference champs by the league. Junior Kristen Shifflett was named as the league's preseason Player of the Year, while fellow junior Chelsea Kelley earned preseason Pitcher of the Year honors. Shifflett, the 2009 Big South Tournament MVP, launched a school record and Big South best 16 home runs in 2009. Kelley is coming off a stellar sophomore campaign in which the reigning Big South Pitcher of the Year posted a 25-8 record with a 2.55 ERA in 208.2 innings of work. A first team all-region and all-conference selection, Kelley went a school record 21 appearances (14 starts) without a loss (13-0, two saves) from April 8 to May 8.
The All-Time Series
Missouri and Radford have never played each other.
After the 2010 NFCA Leadoff Classic, Missouri will get their first taste of midweek action this season when they travel to Edwardsville, Ill., on Wednesday, March 3, for a doubleheader with SIU-Edwardsville. The twin-bill will be the last two games of Mizzou's season-opening, 14-game road trip.
Tigers T-4th in Latest ESPN.com Poll
After moving from their preseason No. 9 ranking to No. 6 (NFCA) and No. 5 (ESPN.com) in the first regular season polls, Mizzou once again moved upwards with the release of the second week of rankings. Staying put at No. 6 in the USA Today/NFCA poll, a 1-1 weekend against No. 2 Arizona helped move the Tigers into a tie for fourth with Michigan in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, marking the team's highest ranking ever. Last week, Mizzou ranked fifth and received 416 points in the ESPN.com poll, while Michigan received 435 points, good for the No. 3 overall ranking. This week, however, both programs received 421 points for a fourth-place tie. Missouri and Michigan will face off this Friday, Feb. 25, to open the 2010 NFCA Leadoff Classic
Lucky No. 2?
The No. 2 is looking as if it has become a lucky number as of late for the Missouri program. In Mizzou's last two three-game sets against the No. 2 team in the country, the Tigers have been able to take two out of three - on the road, no less. Last year, MU took two of three against the UCLA Bruins in Los Angeles, Calif., at the NCAA Super Regional, advancing Missouri to their fourth Women's College World Series in program history. To open the 2010 season, Missouri took two out of three against the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, Ala. On top of that, both of Mizzou's game three victories came at the hands of a five inning mercy rule. The Tigers beat UCLA in game three last year by a 9-1 final, while beating Alabama 9-0 in the rubber match of this year's series. Missouri also split a doubleheader with No. 2 Arizona last weekend, also on the road, to improve their record to 5-3 in their last eight games against the nation's No. 2 squad.
Tigers Split DH with No. 2 Arizona
The No. 6/5 Missouri softball team earned a hard-fought split in Sunday's doubleheader with No. 2 Arizona, improving their record to 3-2 on the season. After dropping the first game by a 5-0 margin, the Tigers bounced back in impressive fashion in game two, defeating the Wildcats by a score of 10-5 for Arizona's first loss of the season. This marked the first time Arizona has given up 10 or more runs in the regular season since March 18, 2007, against then-No. 6 Oklahoma. Offensively, Mizzou got two RBIs from four different players. Juniors Marla Schweisberger and Megan Christopher plated two apiece, as did freshman Nicole Hudson and sophomore Ashley Fleming. Christopher went 3-3 with three singles and a walk, while Schweisberger singled twice and homered in four at-bats.
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