Season Preview: Softball

Season Preview: SoftballSeason Preview: SoftballSeason Preview: Softball

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By Ben Burke, 23 Sports

Sunday, Feb. 8 –

Although it doesn’t get much attention, the Missouri softball team is one of the better programs at the University of Missouri. This season, the Tigers are ranked No. 17 to start the year, and head coach Ehren Earleywine’s squad will look to improve on last year’s 43-18 record.

This task is well within the realm of possibility for Missouri, as the Tigers will be returning all but three members of last year’s team. The most important of those returning players is sophomore pitcher Tori Finucane.

Last season Finucane turned in phenomenal numbers, going 21-6 with a 1.73 ERA. These numbers earned her the SEC Freshman of the Year Award, a spot on the All-SEC First Team, and a spot on the NFCA All-Southeast Region Second Team.

Finucane was also named to the 2015 Preseason All-SEC Team along with redshirt junior Taylor Gadbois. The outfielder was also on last year’s All-SEC First Team and NFCA All-Southeast Region Second Team in addition to winning the 2014 NFCA Golden Shoe award for her SEC-best 46 steals. Gadbois led the team and ranked fifth in the SEC with a .421 batting average.

Other notable returners for the Tigers include senior infielder Corrin Genovese (2014 All-SEC First Team), junior second baseman/outfielder Emily Crane (2014 NFCA All-Southeast Region Second Team), and senior third baseman/catcher Angela Randazzo (2014 NFCA All-Southeast Region Second Team).

Though Missouri is bringing back a lot of talent this season, the team will miss the production from last year’s two graduating seniors: Alora Marble and Mackenzie Sykes. Marble, a pitcher from Jefferson City, went an impressive 7-2 in 16 starts last year. Sykes was named to the 2014 All-SEC Defensive Team at left field, and finished tied for 10th in school history for RBI’s in a single season with 52.

To fill the shoes of the graduates, the Tigers have added six freshmen to the team. The most highly-touted of these newcomers is left-handed pitcher Paige Lowary. The southpaw is a two-time winner of the Gatorade Iowa Softball Player of the Year Award. In her senior year, Lowary went 21-1 with a .18 ERA, and batted .455 from the plate.

The Tigers also added some of Missouri’s finest high school talent, as two of the six freshmen are in-state recruits. Infielder Sara Harvey from Staley High School in Kansas City set the Missouri high school record for doubles in a career with 49 on her way to a spot on the Class 4 All-State First Team. Fellow infielder Paige Bange had a stellar career at Helias Catholic High School in Jefferson City, earning herself a spot on the Class 4 All-State Second Team her senior year.

With high expectations, Missouri kicks off the season at the Dot Richardson Invitational in Clermont, Florida. The first game is Friday, Feb. 13, against the Louisville Cardinals.