March 18, 2014
|vs. Illinois State||Columbia, Mo.||Wed./1 p.m.||Live Stats | Twitter | Video | KTGR|
|vs. Illinois State||Columbia, Mo.||Wed./3 p.m.||Live Stats | Twitter | Video|
TIGER TALES - No. 18 Mizzou Softball (16-7, 2-4 SEC) defeated its first Top 10-ranked opponent and third Top 25-ranked opponent of the season in then-No. 9 Kentucky on Friday, March 14, using another strong pitching performance from freshman P Tori Finucane in the 7-2 win. Redshirt sophomore OF Taylor Gadbois, sophomore 2B/OF Emily Crane and senior OF Mackenzie Sykes each recorded two hits in the victory. Finucane tossed the complete game (7.0 IP), striking out five batters and walking four.
• Head coach Ehren Earleywine’s squad was edged in the final two games of the Kentucky series, with both played on Saturday, March 15, due to anticipated weather conditions. Mizzou has only dropped games to ranked competition in 2014, with six of the seven games decided by just one run.
• The story of the series may have been Gadbois recording a hit in all three games to extend her hitting streak to 19 games, topping Mizzou three-time All-American Rhea Taylor’s program-best 18-game hitting streak from 2010. Gadbois has produced a multi-hit game in 11 of the 19 games. Redshirt sophomore SS Sami Fagan is not far behind Gadbois, currently on a 14-game hitting streak.
• Redshirt sophomore 2B Ashtin Stephens had a career game in the initial contest of the Kentucky doubleheader, recording a pristine 3-for-3 performance at the plate for her second three-hit game as a Tiger. The infielder last recorded three hits in a game at Texas in 2012. Junior 3B/C Angela Randazzo was also perfect at the plate in the game vs. UK, posting a 2-for-2 outing.
• The Tigers were led to a doubleheader sweep at Evansville (March 11) by standout two-game performances from junior 1B Kelsea Roth, Gadbois and Crane. Roth batted 2-for-4, both home runs in the game one win (7-3). Gadbois batted 4-for-7 with three stolen bases, while Crane hit 3-for-6 with two stolen bases. Additionally, freshman C Kirsten Mack and Fagan both had two RBIs in the game two win (6-2).
• Speed. Mizzou is showing plenty of it through the team’s first 23 games, totaling 45 stolen bases for a clip of 1.96 successful steals per game. It’s a stark improvement from last season in which Earleywine’s group averaged 1.1 steals per game (59 SB, 52 games). The major contributor, of course, is Gadbois’ 21 steals, which currently ranks second-best in the SEC. Crane has been more aggressive, as well, going 9-for-10 in steal attempts thus far. Crane finished her freshman season in 2013 with 13 steals in 52 games.
• The top of Mizzou’s lineup has continued its dynamite impact on opponents, with Gadbois, Crane and Fagan combining for 93 hits through 23 games (an average of more than four hits per game).
• Night games against ranked competition have been smooth sailing for Finucane so far in her first season at Mizzou, with the Tiger hurler earning her second complete game shutout of a ranked foe at No. 13 Texas A&M on March 7. Finucane pitched 7.0 innings of heat to the Aggies, recording seven strikeouts while allowing just three hits and two walks. With plenty of run support, the team effort equaled a 7-0 Mizzou victory.
• 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 344 games to run his career total to 488.
THE OPPOSITION- Mizzou is certainly familiar with Illinois State, as the Tigers used an incredible six-run, two-out rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to come back and defeat the Redbirds, 11-10, at the Citrus Classic (March 1). Mizzou and Illinois State have recent history, with ISU coming to Columbia in 2011 and 2012 for NCAA Regionals. The Tigers went a perfect 4-0 against the Redbirds during those postseason meetings, with an impressive 21-7 all-time record against the Missouri Valley Conference school.
• The Redbirds are 8-15, with 10 of those setbacks coming against ranked opposition (including Mizzou). Illinois State is led by 29th-year head coach Melinda Fisher, who has more than 900 career victories to her credit.
• Illinois State is led at the plate by Kolby Hoffman’s .290 batting average, while also recording a team-best nine stolen bases. Jordan de los Reyes leads the squad with six home runs.
• Pitchers Regan Romshek (90.2 IP) and Taylor Baxter (45.1 IP) have logged the majority of Illinois State’s innings in the circle. Both appeared vs. Mizzou on March 1.
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