By Jordan Milewczik
After a 299 day wait, the University of Missouri and its baseball team finally got an answer on what their postseason fate is for the 2020 season. In November, the NCAA Infraction Appeals Committee announced that the January decision of a complete postseason ban for the baseball, softball, and football programs would be enforced.
It was a crushing blow for a Missouri team who had just come off of a season in which it felt it was snubbed of a NCAA Tournament bid. The Tigers went 34-22-1 with eight wins against ranked opponents. Because of that, the team won’t even have the opportunity to be snubbed. Even so, in 2020, the team has chosen to take a different approach to their season. Head coach Steve Bieser has championed a new vision for the upcoming season for the Tigers.
“We are focused on one game, and we have goals,” Bieser said. “We’d like to win 40 games. We’d like to win the SEC. There’s a lot of things that we have right now that’s going to keep our focus on what we’re doing.”
According to both he and Missouri’s players, when the first pitch is thrown against Jacksonville State Friday, the NCAA sanctions will be far out of mind.
“They [MU Softball] went out there to prove something, and that’s the same thing for us,” Junior pitcher Konnor Ash said. “We are gonna go out there and win every single game.”
A long, 53 game season which includes 27 road games will begin with a tough nine game road trip. The team looks to improve on the road this season after going 11-12-1 on the road last season.
The players said they’re looking to bring a little more aggression, within reason, to their game this season. Particularly, on the base paths- where it stole 101 bases in 2019.
“We know what we can do,” Ash said. “We have a more aggressive lineup this year. Just excited about the hitters and get out there and compete with everyone.
Missouri will also look to find replacements for outfielder Kameron Misner and TJ Sikkema who both went between the first and second rounds of the past MLB draft to the Miami Marlins and New York Yankees.
Misner led the team in stolen bases (20), on-base percentage with more than 50 at bats with a .440 clip. He also had a slash line of .286/.480/.440 and was taken No. 35 overall. Sikkema was taken No. 38 after going 7-4 and leading the team in ERA (1.32), innings pitched (88.2), and strikeouts (101).
“Ian (Bedell), Konnor (Ash), and (Lukas) Veinbergs are going to have to be the power horses for our pitching,” Junior infielder Mark Vierlings Said. “They were good last year, and they’ll be good this year.”
The team returns such veterans like Ian Bedell who was selected as a Preseason Third-Team All-American by D1baseball.com as well as a 2020 Perfect Game/Rawlings Preseason Third-Team All-American. Missouri also added depth with the 28th ranked recruiting class in the nation with 19 high school commits with one in the top 100.
The team has a tall task this season as there are already nine SEC teams in the NCAA Top 25 with six of them being in the Top 10. The team will have to be at their peak this season as it looks to shake up the SEC Tournament May 19-24, 2020 in Hoover, Alabama.
“Our postseason is the SEC Conference, and we are gonna go out and do some damage in the SEC Conference,” Bieser said.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org