No. 8/7 Mizzou (33-10, 15-8 SEC) heads to its first Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament, hosted by Kentucky. With the bracket’s No. 3 seed, the Tigers face No. 25/22 Arkansas (34-17, in the event’s quarterfinal round on ESPNU on Thursday at 3 p.m. CT. Joining me on this Google Hangout to talk about Mizzou softball is Will Palaszczuk of KTGR in Columbia. Will is the voice of Mizzou women’s softball and the guy knows the Tigers inside and out.
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Head coach Ehren Earleywine leads his Tiger team into the program’s first SEC postseason action, holding a 6-4 all-time record against Arkansas. Mizzou took a stout, five-inning 9-0 win over the Razorbacks on April 12 before yielding two results to Arkansas in extra innings (4-1 , 11-10 ). With a win, the Tigers would advance to the tournament’s semifinal round and face the winner of No. 2 Tennessee and No. 10 South Carolina. The matchup is set for 4:30 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
2013 SEC PITCHER OF THE YEAR – CHELSEA THOMAS
Thomas took home the 2013 SEC Pitcher of the Year on Tuesday, May 7. A two-time All-American, Thomas also earned Big 12 Pitcher of the Year awards in 2011 and 2012. She was the winningest pitcher in league games in 2013, claiming 13 SEC regular season wins. Thomas finished the conference season with top marks in conference strikeouts (117) and conference opposing batting average (.176). Thomas additionally received a First Team All-SEC nod to add to her two First Team All-Big 12 honors (2011, 2012). She was also recognized to the All-SEC Defensive Team.
2013 SEC SCHOLAR-ATHLETE OF THE YEAR – JENNA MARSTON
Marston has compiled a 3.99 cumulative GPA as an industrial engineering major in her time at the University of Missouri. She earned Capital One First Team Academic All-America recognition as a junior in 2012 and has been an academic all-district pick three times in her career. She posted a team-best .371 batting average in SEC action that ranked ninth in the conference. Her .489 on-base percentage was good for third-best in the league, and her eight conference doubles tied for No. 2 in the SEC. At catcher, Marston recorded an astute .985 fielding percentage with four runners caught stealing.
• Thomas became Mizzou’s all-time winningest pitcher with her performance in the 6-1 win at LSU (April 19), her 103rd career victory. She surpassed the 30-year old record of 102 set by Teresa Wilson from 1980-83. She earned win No. 107 with her no-hitter in the 2-0 win vs. No. 2 Tennessee (May 4).
• Marston and Hudson have paved their way solidly into the all-time hits chart at Mizzou. Marston currently has 221 hits, good for No. 5 in Mizzou’s record book. Hudson has moved into the No. 9 all-time spot with 203 base knocks. Marston additionally moved into the school’s top 10 for career at-bats, where she currently ranks ninth all-time with 666.
• Hudson and Marston are in a tight race to be Mizzou’s all-time walks leader by season’s end. Hudson is currently Mizzou’s all-time leader with 140 walks after recording 41 so far in 2013, while Marston follows at 132 with 23 this season. Marston originally surpassed former standout Jen Bruck’s former No. 1 mark of 115 (2005-08) with her 116th walk in the fifth inning of Mizzou’s 12-0 (5) win at Ole Miss on March 17.
• Hudson’s season total of 41 walks, a career best, currently ranks tied for third all-time. The program record of 46 was set by Marston last season.