For the third year in a row the Mizzou softball team is headed to the Women’s College World Series after sweeping Washington in two games this weekend in Columbia. Mizzou opens play Thursday against Florida at 8:30 in Oklahoma City. Mizzou has lost its first two games in each of the last two World Series. The Gators knocked out the Tigers last year.
Senior outfielder Rhea Taylor starts Mizzou’s offense, earning first-team all-region honors with a team-best .371 batting average to go along with her 43 steals, 69 hits and 52 runs, all tops among the 2011 Tigers. Junior Ashley Fleming joined Taylor on the all-region first team, with a .358 batting average and 16 steals, 50 runs and a triple to go with her team-best 16 doubles, 14 home runs and 62 RBIs. Sophomore third baseman Nicole Hudson checks in with a .343 average, 47 runs scored, 13 doubles and 13 home runs on the year.
The only pitcher among the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award finalists, redshirt sophomore Chelsea Thomas has thrown 245.2 of Mizzou’s 400.0 innings in the circle this season, resulting in a 31-6 record with three saves. Thomas missed most of last season with a stress fracture in the ulna of her pitching arm, but has rebounded with first-team all-region and Big 12 Pitcher-of-the-Year honors in 2011.
Missouri started Big 12 play by riding out the tail end of a 24-game wining streak that started in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 26. Mizzou did not lose a Big 12 game until April 2 at Baylor. The Tigers rebounded nicely, finishing with a 15-3 conference record and the Big 12 title. Missouri has stayed at home since the concusion of the regular season, hosting a regional when the team played five games in two days because Friday’s schedule was wiped out by rain. An opening 12-3, five-inning victory against Illinios State set up a meeting with DePaul, in which the Tigers would fell 2-1 in 11 innings. After an 8-4 win to eliminate Illinois State, Mizzou swept a Sunday doubleheader from DePaul 7-3 and 8-0 (6 inn.) to advance to Super Regional play. Washington, the tournament’s No. 12 seed, came into Columbia for Super Regional play, but were dispatched in two games, a 4-0 Saturday win and a 6-3 Sunday victory for the bid to Oklahoma City.
Information courtesy of NCAA.com
Junior centerfielder Michelle Moultrie leads the way offensively for the Gators with a .431 batting average and 28 stolen bases. Florida boasts a trio of first-team all-region honorees in the lineup, including senior first baseman Megan Bush, senior outfielder Kelsey Bruder and sophomore utility Brittany Schutte. Bush is hitting .345 with 20 home runs this season. Bruder contributes a .386 average with 17 home runs and 14 doubles with nine stolen bases, while Schutte has hit 20 home runs with a .322 batting average, three stolen bases and 60 runs scored this season.
Freshman Hannah Rogers earned first-team all-region honors after carrying the load in the circle for Florida this season. Rogers has a team-leading 238.0 innings pitched this season, recording 203 strikeouts and a 33-6 record with 10 shutouts, three saves and a 1.59 ERA. Senior Stephanie Brombacher has contributed 135.0 IP with a 19-2 record and 1.09 ERA.