Feb. 27, 2014
|Bradley||Kissimmee, Fla.||Fri./2:30 p.m.||Live Stats | Twitter|
|Syracuse||Kissimmee, Fla.||Fri./4:45 p.m.||Live Stats | Twitter | ESPN3|
|Illinois State||Kissimmee, Fla.||Sat./12:15 p.m.||Live Stats | Twitter|
|Radford||Kissimmee, Fla.||Sat./2:30 p.m.||Live Stats | Twitter|
|Ohio State||Kissimmee, Fla.||Sun./9 a.m.||Live Stats | Twitter|
|Game Notes: Mizzou | Ohio State|
TIGER TALES- Mizzou Softball took down its first ranked team of the season at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on Feb. 20, blanking No. 14 Arizona, 2-0. The win was engineered by freshman P Tori Finucane, who pitched the complete game shutout (7.0) with a season-best eight strikeouts. The new Tiger allowed just five hits and issued zero walks. Redshirt sophomore OF Taylor Gadbois became the first Tiger since May 21, 2011, to record at least three stolen bases in a game, while sophomore 2B/OF Emily Crane led the way at the plate with a 2-for-3, one RBI performance.
Head coach Ehren Earleywine's squad finished the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic with a 3-2 record to improve its overall season mark to 7-3. Gadbois batted an outstanding .563 (9-for-16) over Mizzou's five games, while senior OF Mackenzie Sykes hit an impressive .462 (6-for-13) with two doubles to her credit. Finucane posted a 2-1 record in three appearances with 15 strikeouts in 13.2 innings pitched. Besides the Arizona win, the Tigers dropped Fordham (8-0) and San Diego State (11-2) in five innings on Feb. 21.
The top of Mizzou's batting order has been dynamic through the first 10 games of the season. Regular leadoff batter Gadbois has hit a team-best .462 (12-for-26) while leading the squad with 10 stolen bases. No. 2 hole hitter redshirt sophomore SS Sami Fagan has hit .324 (11-for-34) and has been perfect in steal attempts (3-for-3). The typical third batter for Mizzou, Crane, has produced with a .346 batting average (9-for-26) and team-leading 11 RBI. In total, the threesome have a combined .372 (32-for-86) batting average.
Breaking in a whole new era of pitching at Mizzou has been called an "exciting" part of the coaching job Earleywine gets to do every day for the Tigers. Finucane, freshman P/OF/1B Casey Stangel and senior P Alora Marble have been doing their part early on in the Tigers' season, sporting a 1.15 team ERA through 10 games. Finucane (1.05 ERA, 26.2 IP) and Stangel (1.40 ERA, 25.0 IP) lead the Tigers in innings pitched.
Earleywine's crew was given preseason rankings of 14th and 17th by the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 and ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 polls, respectively, marking the fifth-consecutive season that the Tigers begin their season ranked in the Top 15. Mizzou is currently 17th and 19th in the two polls.
Earleywine is in his eighth season leading Mizzou and 11th season as a head softball coach with a major milestone within reach. The former Georgia Tech head coach (2004-06) went 146-55 in Atlanta before returning to his home state to lead the Tigers, winning 333 games to run his career total to 479.
The 2014 season will have a new feeling to many who closely follow the program, as ace pitcher Chelsea Thomas and always reliable batters Nicole Hudson and Jenna Marston no longer appear on Earleywine's lineup card. The graduates left lasting marks on Mizzou, with Thomas becoming the first three-time First Team All-American in program history. She claimed three conference pitcher of the year awards (two in the Big 12, one in the SEC). Thomas finished her Tiger career as the winningest pitcher in school history, with a career mark of 111-31, as well as No. 1 in strikeouts with 1,174.
Hudson and Marston were dynamic at the plate throughout their careers and used strong final seasons at the plate to finish in Mizzou's all-time top 10 in career hits, doubles, at-bats, runs scored, RBI and walks. Hudson (143) and Marston (134) rank No. 1 and No. 2 atop the Tigers' all-time walks chart. Hudson finished one home run shy of matching Jen Bruck (2005-08) for the school's career long ball record of 47, while Marston finished second in both doubles (53) and runs scored (193).
THE OPPOSITION - CITRUS CLASSIC - Bradley enters the Citrus Classic (Friday, Feb. 28-Sunday, March 2) with a 5-9 overall record, including setbacks to No. 24 Cal (10-3) and twice vs. No. 14 Stanford (7-3, 5-0). BU is led at the plate by Marina Groenewegen, who holds a .321 batting average. Mizzou last played the Braves in 2010, a five-inning 9-1 victory for the Tigers at University Field. Former Tiger and current Mizzou assistant coach Gina Schneider batted 1-for-1 with one run scored in the win.
Syracuse (4-6) also played at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic along with Mizzou, although against different opponents. The Orange played a tight game against No. 18 Oklahoma (L, 6-2), recording a 2-3 overall mark at the event. Syracuse sports two .400 hitters in its lineup, both Julie Wambold (10-for-25) and Ellie Forkin (6-for-15).
Illinois State (5-9) started off its 2014 season taking No. 4 Florida to the wire in a 3-2 setback. The Redbirds also dropped a close game at No. 5 Arizona State (4-2). Three players for Illinois State have two home runs so far in 2014: Kolby Hoffman, Jordan de los Reyes and Regan Romshek.
Radford (2-4) has a .400 batter in Julie Gardner (6-for-15), who is also the team's leader in home runs (2). Mizzou and the Highlanders matched up in 2010 in Columbus, Ga., with the Tigers edging RU by a 7-6 score in 10 innings. Schneider hit a home run in the sixth inning of the game. Current director of operations Lisa Simmons recorded the winning RBI in the contest, grounding out but driving in Schneider from third base.
Ohio State (4-6) dropped games to ranked opponents at the Easton Desert Classic (Las Vegas, Nev.) from Feb. 14-16, falling to No. 2 Florida (19-2 ) and No. 10 Oregon (9-0 ). Despite the tough losses, OSU has three players hitting above .400 entering the Citrus Classic: Caitlin Conrad (.429), Evelyn Carrillo (.419) and Erika Leonard (.407).
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