May 7, 2009
Six days removed from its last regular season win, the 14th-ranked Missouri softball is anxious to return to the diamond and make its run for the program's second Big 12 Championship trophy. The Tigers, led by third year Head Coach Ehren Earleywine, will make their 14th appearance in the Big 12 Tournament, Saturday, May 9, at 11 a.m. (CT) on the main field of ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. Missouri, the No. 2 seed entering the tournament, will square off with the winner of the Oklahoma State (seventh seed)-Texas Tech (10 seed) game set for Friday, May 8. Earlier in the campaign, Missouri swept both programs en route to a 12-5 record in league competition.
The Tigers closed out the 2009 regular season with a second place showing in the Big 12. As predicted by the Conference coaches prior to the start of the campaign, Oklahoma, ranked as high as ninth in the nation, finished first, while Missouri took second. The second place finish is Missouri's second best showing in Big 12 regular season competition. Missouri's best Big 12 finish came in 1997, when the Tigers captured both regular season and tournament titles. Since the formation of the league in 1996, Missouri's second best showing had been third, a mark set six times over the course of 13 years.
The 2009 campaign marks the first time in four years that the Tigers will begin tournament play on the main field of ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. Last season Missouri and Texas Tech battled on the alternate field with Texas Tech claiming the 5-3 win in the single elimination format. In the past 10 years, Missouri has notched a 16-15 record at the Big 12 Tournament, finishing as high as second in 2004 and 2005. The single elimination format was implemented in 2007 with Oklahoma, the No. 2 seed, claiming tournament bragging rights.
Missouri's softball team is out to prove it's better than its No. 2 seeding. In 14 years, six teams seeded second or lower have earned the Big 12 Championship title, with four No. 2 seeds coming out the victor. Along the way to the championship game, set for Sunday, May 10, at 11:30 a.m. (CT) and televised live on Fox Sports Midwest, Missouri will have to fend off programs from Oklahoma State or Texas Tech as well as Baylor or Texas A&M. Missouri swept all four programs that stand on its side of the bracket, splitting games with Kansas, Iowa State and Texas, three teams on the opposite side of the bracket. Oklahoma, the No. 1 seed, was the only team to get the best of Missouri and could potentially meet again with the Tigers in Sunday's final game.
The annual Big 12 awards, First and Second Team All-Big 12, Academic All-Big 12, Big 12 Freshman of the Year, League Pitcher of the Year and Coach of the Year, will be announced Friday evening following the 5 p.m. (CT) games. A release detailing Missouri's award winners will be provided following the announcement.
Following the annual conference tournament, Missouri will learn of its NCAA Regional fate Sunday, May 10, at 9 p.m. (CT) during the softball selection show aired on ESPNU. An appearance at Regionals would mark Missouri's fourth trip in five years to post-season play and the Tiger's 13th NCAA Regional appearance in program history.