Tuesday, June 19, 2007

MU Softball 2007 Season Wrap-Up

Yes....so the season ended awhile ago and I am just getting to it....get over it....it's been a busy couple of months for me.

The 2006 season began with the Mizzou Tigers ranked 18th in the country, but ended for them on May 12, as they fell to OU 4-0 in the finals of the Big XII Championship game. The upstart Tigers put together a nice run to make the finals, but their regular season record would show them at a disappointing one game under .500 at 26-27.

About three months later, then-coach Ty Singleton bolted for the perceived (by him anyway) greener pastures of University of New Mexico (parlayed a 23-31 team into a 20-25 team there in his first year) A few days later, Mike Alden announced that Georgia Tech head coach and Missouri native Ehren Earleywine would become the new Tiger skipper. Earleywine, a Jeff City Jay and Westminster grad seemed very excited to be coming home, but would have his work cut out for him, as star and pretty much only returning pitcher Jen Bruck would be coming off of the most unique of post-season....well...um....condition. She just gave birth to her first child.

Jen Bruck was nothing short of inspirational in her comeback as the season got going, and the young Tigers under a new head coach had a couple of nice wins over ranked opponents in the non-conference to show for it. However, reaching the Big XII season at 22-17, not much was expected of Mizzou. After all, they had been pre-season ranked #8 in the league.

Once the league season picked up, so did Mizzou. Charting up win after win, Mizzou slowly began to gain some national recognition, cracking the polls on April 25 in 21st place. When all was said and done, Mizzou was playing for the regular season title on the last weekend, coming up just short in the race and finishing a wonderful 3rd overall. Mizzou finished disappointed in the Big XII Championship, and made a regional final game before falling to eventual CWS participant Depaul, finishing the season ranked 19th in the nation with a 40-24 record (which made for an amazing 18-7 run through the amazingly tough conference season and postseason) For his effort, Coach Earleywine was voted Big XII Coach of the Year.

So now....what does Mizzou lose going into next year?


  • Leanne Bowers: Outfielder batted .299 on the year with 4 HR's. She played and started in every single game Mizzou played this season (one of only three to do that) She worked a good amount of walks on the season, and lead the team in stolen bases, but also in strikeouts. Only one error in the outfield means she was quite good out there, and will be missed next season.
  • Kathy Masterson: Primarily the catcher for Mizzou this season, Kathy started 56 games and batted .277 for Mizzou. Very solid behind the plate with only 3 errors, Kathy brought good stability, and with her graduation, along with seniors Alyson Tobyne and A.J. White, Mizzou will only have one returning catcher to the roster next year in RS Soph Katie Miles (along with a true frosh)
  • Sarah Stringer: 2B for Mizzou this season, starting in 57 games for the Tigers and batting a solid .270 with 4 HR's to her name. Decent in the field, but was third on the team in errors with nine (light hitting senior Ally Kennewell had 11 and Jen Bruck had...well...16)

So....Mizzou will lose three, pretty much everyday elements to their lineup, but let's take a look at what is returning in 2008.


  • Jen Bruck: Everyday pitcher for Mizzou will be a senior next season, and one must believe she will have an even stronger season in 2008. Bruck got into a good groove during conference play, but I think ran out of gas a bit down the stretch as the Tigers really had to lean on her come tournament play. Bruck started 32 games on the season, going 21-10 with a 2.47 ERA and 193 hits in 190 innings. At the plate, Bruck put up the second most HR's on the team with 7, while batting .244. Hopefully her fielding woes will be examined in the off-season, as 16 errors, and some of them at REALLY bad times did hurt the Tigers down the stretch
  • Micaela Minner: The senior-to-be leader in almost all offensive categories for Mizzou this season, Micaela batted a team high .367, but did see her power numbers fall off to only 6, down from 9 in 2006 and 17 in 2005. Minner worked 33 walks on the season with only 12 K's, showing clearly good patience given she likely does not see a lot of pitches these days. Benefiting from that would be....
  • Amanda Renth: Another senior next season, the Tiger's first baseman put up a team leading 14 HR's while batting at a .324 clip. She lead the team in RBI's and slugging as well, and was solid in the field with only 4 errors at first base. Renth, along with Minner are the two Tigers returning who played and started in every single game on the season.
  • Andee Allen: Allen will be a junior next year, and has played both second base and shortstop. Allen hit .276 and was speedy on the bases with 13 steals, likely needing to take over the roll from Bowers as some top of the lineup speed. She played in 61 games this season, and was solid with only 6 errors on the season in the infield.
  • Julie Silver: Had a great first season a frosh on the squad, hitting .298 and stealing 10 bases while playing the outfield. Silver showed some good pop with the bat, hitting 3 HR's. Mizzou will need further development from her next season, but she certainly showed a tremendous start and potential with three more seasons to play.

Incoming Class

  • The class features five signees, two of which are reported as catchers. The others are a left-handed pitcher, an outfielder with tremendous speed (stole seven bases in ONE GAME in high school) and a utility player/infielder. My guess is that the team will look for production from the pitcher, one of the catchers and the outfielder this season.

Thoughts for 2008

Coach Earleywine was quoted towards the end of the season when Mizzou was garnering all of it's attention that he was surprised how well and how quickly some of his players had picked up his batting instruction, stating his plan was really a two year plan for that instruction to come around. Well, 2008 looks like a perfect year for that plan to hit. With top batters and top power coming back, Mizzou should not be short on runs. Decent speed and defense will also be in abundance for the Tigers. We all know how good Bruck can be, but we really need for either junior to be Megan Dennis (9-3), soph to be Jana Hainey (7-5) or the true frosh to come along in a big way.

The secret will be out on Mizzou this year, and they will not be able to sneak up on anyone come conference season like they were able to this year. Next season will be a very important year with all the key seniors on the team, Mizzou's goals must be two-fold. They must keep the momentum of an NCAA tourney berth going on the field, as well as off while Earleywine gets his first full season of recruiting under his belt. The Tigers should again expect to contend in the usually loaded Big XII and should expect to return to the NCAA's come May 2008.