Tiger Softball Team Makes NCAA Super Regional Run Missouri Takes on Alabama in Best-of-Three Series
May 22, 2008
Fresh off of winning the program's fourth NCAA Regional Title, the Missouri softball team will travel to Alabama and take on the No. 3 national seed in its first-ever NCAA Super Regional Tournament beginning Friday, May 23, at 6:30 p.m. (CT) in the Alabama Softball Complex of Tuscaloosa, Ala.The best-of-three tournament will continue on Saturday, May 24, with game two slated to begin at and the third, if necessary game, taking place at Live streamed video and stats will be provided through www.mutigers.com.The winner of the Tuscaloosa Super Regional will advance to the Women's College World Series (WCWS), May 29-June 4 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Riding a three-game win streak, the Tigers enter the two-day tournament with a 47-15 record.Missouri's 47 wins ties the program high for most wins in a season.Only two other Tiger squads have accomplished such a feat, the first in 1995 and most recently the 1997 Big 12 Champion team.
The 2008 campaign marks the fourth year in which the NCAA Super Regional Tournament has been in place.Prior to 2005, softball programs advanced straight from Regional Championships into the WCWS.Under the old format, the Missouri softball team made three appearances at the WCWS finishing as high as fifth in 1991.Missouri is 21-24 in NCAA post-season tournaments.
Missouri is one of three Big 12 programs remaining in the field of 16 super regional teams.Texas A&M, the nation's No. 5 seed, will host Stanford in a May 24-25 series.Competing in the same side of the bracket as Missouri, No. 10 seed Oklahoma will travel to Arizona to face the seventh-seeded Wildcats, May 23-24.Missouri is the first Big 12 North school to advance to an NCAA Super Regional Tournament.Big 12 schools are 9-10 in Super Regionals, with only Texas, Baylor and Texas A&M advancing into the final field of eight WCWS teams.
The Big 12 and Southeast Conference (SEC) squads have met on three previous occasions, with Missouri owning a 2-1 lead over Alabama.The two teams first met in 1999 at the NCAA Regional, May 21, in Los Angeles, Calif.The Tigers secured a 1-0 win on an Alabama error in the fourth inning.In 2000, the Tide earned the one run, 5-4, win over Missouri at the Metrodome Invitational.
The only game played at an on-campus location came in 2005.Traveling to Tuscaloosa, Missouri walked away with a 6-1 win over then sixth-ranked Alabama.Current seniors Jen Bruck and Amanda Renth were freshmen on the squad.Missouri's designated player, Bruck, finished the game 2-for-3 at the plate powering two doubles to left field and scoring the Tiger's fifth of six runs against the Tide.
In just two years as Head Coach of the Tiger softball team, Ehren Earleywine has helped the program reach new heights of excellence.This marks Earleywine's first trip in his five year's as a Head Coach to an NCAA Super Regional event.The Jefferson City, Mo., native is 11-8 in NCAA post-season events.
Five Tigers are averaging over .300 on the season and have helped the Missouri softball team to a .289 average.Big 12 Freshman of the Year Rhea Taylor continues to lead her squad with a .406 average, however junior Andee Allen has proven dominant in post-season competition, recording a .429 mark in four games (Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Regionals) and .500 average in her three appearances at the NCAA Regional tournament.Allen is responsible for six of Missouri's 32 hits in post season including the game-winning single to centerfield in the Tiger's May 18 victory over Iowa.
Taylor, the nation's leader in stolen bases, 57, is 5-of-5 in post season competition and 57-of-60 overall.
Senior first baseman Amanda Renth owns Missouri's highest slugging percentage of the campaign at .753.Helped by her program-high 20 home runs and 11 doubles, Renth also leads the squad with her 60 RBI including five in post-season play.
Also hot with the bat is junior Lindsey Ubrun.Breaking a six-game slump in which the Tiger failed to hit any home runs, Ubrun crushed an eighth inning, leadoff, walk-off bomb over the left field wall to give Missouri its first win of the Iowa City Regional, 3-2.Ubrun is batting .333 in post season and .313 overall.
Junior Stacy Delaney and senior Jen Bruck have combined for Missouri's three-post season victories.Delaney hurled 17.2 innings in Iowa City, Iowa and was credited with both wins over Iowa as well as a save, her second of the season, over 18th-ranked Long BeachState.Bruck was awarded the decision in the May 17 game against the 49ers after throwing 4.1 innings.
The Tiger trio of Bruck, Delaney and left-handed hurler Jana Hainey has combined for a 2.26 ERA this season, holding opponents to a .236 average.Delaney, currently with a 1.85 ERA on the season has struck out 174 batters, while Bruck hit the century mark with her solo strikeout in the game against Long BeachState.
The 2008 season marks the 12th time in program history that the Tiger softball team advanced to an NCAA Regional Tournament and first time ever that the Tigers have moved onto a Super Regional.Missouri's first trip to regionals came in 1982 under then-Head Coach Barb Priest.
In its 12 NCAA Regional showings, Missouri has managed a 20-18 record.The Tigers have claimed four Regional titles, 1983, 1991, 1994 and 2008.
Against the SEC
Since its first meeting with LSU in 1981, the Missouri softball team has managed a slim, 16-15 lead over schools in the SEC.The Tigers are 2-1 against Alabama and have not played Tennessee.
Scouting the Tide
Riding a three-game win streak that helped the team to its fourth consecutive NCAA Super Regional appearance, the Tide is 54-6 on the season and 27-2 in the friendly confines of the Alabama Softball Complex.Alabama has taken on 14 of the 64-teams in this year's post-season bracket, including three Super Regional programs.
The 17-member squad took two wins over Jacksonville State (10-1, 4-1) and one over Chattanooga (8-0 in six innings) in the televised NCAA Regional hosted in Tuscaloosa, Ala., May 15-17.The 2008 campaign marks the second time in the four-year history of the recently reformatted tournament that Alabama has been selected to host a Super Regional event.In 2006, Alabama managed a two-game sweep of Stanford in Tuscaloosa to advance to the Women's College World Series.In 11 years, Alabama has made two trips to the WCWS, but failed in its 2007 attempt after dropping back-to-back games to Washington.
Led by Head Coach Patrick Murphy, now in his 10th year with the program, the Tide carried a 26-game winning streak between March 15 and April 29 and has claimed seven wins in its last 10 outings.Alabama finished the Southeast Conference (SEC) Conference Tournament runner-up to second-ranked Florida, dropping the title game on a seventh inning two out, two strike grand slam.
Of Alabama's six losses five are to top-25 ranked teams.Fifteen of Alabama's 54 wins have been decided in six or fewer innings including two over nationally ranked programs.One of eight SEC softball teams to make the field of 64, the Tide is now one of three remaining in the round of 16.
Left-handed hitter Brittany Rogers leads her team with a .452 average which ranks among the top-10 in the nation.In her 58 starts, Rogers has powered 89 hits, 12 marked as doubles and only one as a triple and one a home run.With a .502 on-base percentage, the junior outfielder has scored a team high 74 runs and is on a 13-game hitting streak.Known for her speed around the bases, Rogers enters the series with Missouri at second in the nation with 55 stolen bases.Missouri's centerfielder, freshman Rhea Taylor, leads the country with 57 stolen bags.As a team, the Tide is 155-of-175 on stolen bases, good enough for No. 1 in the nation.
Rogers and her teammates have combined for a .333 average, while Tide opponents have been held to a .184 mark and only 58 extra base hits.Sophomore Charlotte Morgan is also batting well above the Mendoza line with a .424 clip.Morgan's slugging percentage, .826, is a result of her team-leading 17 home runs and 18 doubles.
Morgan is one of three Alabama pitchers to see significant playing time in the circle this season.With a 1.35 ERA, Morgan is 16-2 on the year, her only losses coming to then No. 20 DePaul (1-0) and Georgia (4-2).Keli Dunne, Chrissy Owens and Allison Moore round out the pitching staff with Moore accounting for only one win inseven appearances.The four-person pitching staff owns a 1.56 ERA which ranks among the top 25 in the country.Dunne has seen the most time in the circle for the Tide having thrown 186.1 innings of work entering the two-day tournament with Missouri.Having hurled 247 strikeouts, Dunne, a freshman from Port Orange Fla., was credited with two of Alabama's three NCAA Regional wins and has thrown 14 shutouts, 10 solo.