Post-tournament notebook: No. 18 Missouri softball looks strong early in the season

After going 5-0 in the South Alabama Invitational, the sky appears to be the limit for the Tigers.

No. 18 Missouri softball continued to impress this weekend, going 5-0 in the South Alabama Invitational and improved to 12-2 overall.

With the Tigers off to a solid start to the season, they have many reasons to be optimistic.

Freshmen starters shine at the plate

Jenna Laird and Alex Honnold each had impressive weekends. The freshman duo now holds two of the top four batting averages on the team among starters, with Honnold currently in the top spot.

Honnold hit in every game of the weekend, extending her hitting streak to eight games.

Honnold went 3-for-3 with two RBIs against South Alabama on Friday after going 1-for-3 against Middle Tennessee State. Laird wasn’t as impressive in those games, as she finished a combined 1-for-7.

Honnold tallied two RBIs in Saturday’s doubleheader and went a combined 4-for-6. Laird went 0-for-2 in the game against Northwestern State but then went 2-for-3 with one run against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

Laird capped off the weekend with her first college home run against Middle Tennessee State.

Laird got the Tigers back on track after going down early against South Alabama with an RBI groundout. Honnold later extended Missouri’s lead with an impressive single.

The pair have been impressive all season for the Tigers. They both possess a natural batter’s eye for their age that has made them valuable pickups for coach Larissa Anderson’s team.

Dominant pitching

The Tigers allowed seven runs combined in the five games with two shutouts. Not bad.

Sophomore Jordan Weber and freshman Laurin Krings stayed perfect, as they improved their individual records to 4-0 and 3-0 respectively. Krings threw an impressive nine strikeouts against South Alabama, a team-high for the weekend.

Sophomore Emma Nichols, sophomore Megan Schumacher and senior Sophie Dondola all shut down the opposition as closers.

Nichols had seven strikeouts in five innings against South Alabama and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. Schumacher had four strikeouts in six innings of play closing out against Northwestern State and Middle Tennessee State. Dandola had one strikeout in as many innings against SIUE.

The trio has all had strong showings this season. They have all come in and shut down opposing batters and have been integral to the Tigers’ success so far this season.

Krings was only one hit away from a perfect game against Middle Tennessee on Sunday. She is the second Missouri pitcher to do this, with Weber also coming close against Florida Atlantic.

Krings was dominant from the first pitch. She struck out seven in six innings, with the only hit being a single. She sent the Blue Raiders down in order in the first three innings. She looked untouchable.

If the Tigers are going to be competitive in the SEC — which like in most sports — is a top conference in softball. They’ll need to continue pitching as strong as they have.

Strength in depth

Missouri amassed big leads in every game over the weekend. This allowed coach Anderson to feature those who haven’t played much, displaying the Tigers’ strong depth.

Senior Abby George has arguably been the best of those players. She went 3-for-3 across both games Saturday. She has an .889 batting average from nine plate appearances so far this season.

She also went 3-3 with two runs in Sunday’s game against Middle Tennessee State.

Freshman Riley Frizell also showed promise, as she had strong performances and earned a hit at the plate.

Senior Katherine Kadlec also got the first hit of her career — an RBI single — to end the game against Middle Tennessee State.

Overall

The Tigers have been impressive so far this season, only losing to No. 15 Florida State and No. 25 Iowa State.

Anderson believes this team has the potential to make a run this season. If they plan on doing that, they will need to keep this form up.

At the moment, there is no sign of them slowing down.

“Our terminology, our language is about championships,” Anderson said in a press conference earlier this season. “It’s getting them to think about championships and to play for a ring. That’s what Mizzou softball needs to focus on, is what do you need to do in order to play for a championship.”

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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