By Chuck Bayoud
Last weekend, Missouri lost against two of the top five teams in the country (no. 2 UCLA and no. 5 Washington)
Despite going 1-3 in the Mary Nutter Classic, Missouri softball (9-5) remains optimistic.
Madi Norman, the Tiger’s no. 1 starting pitcher in the 2019 campaign, has already taken tremendous strides on the field in coach Larissa Anderson’s first year at the helm for Missouri.
“In the offseason, she [Norman] picked up about 5 miles per hour,” Anderson said. “When I got here in the fall, she was in the high 50s, and now she’s consistently hitting 65-66… she’s also got one of the nastiest drop balls I’ve ever seen, and she’s getting swings and misses against really high caliber hitters.”
Against UCLA, Norman went five innings with five strikeouts and only gave up two earned runs. Once she was taken out at the end of the fifth inning thanks to a line drive to the knee, Missouri gave up five runs in the sixth inning, which gave UCLA a commanding 11-3 lead.
When asked why Missouri looked so sluggish against such high level competition coach Anderson said, “A big reason why we fell apart was just the speed of the game. Yesterday [Tuesday] was our first practice on dirt.”
Due to frigid winter temperatures in the mid-Missouri area, practice time on the field has been limited thus far in the season for the lady Tigers.
As the weather begins to warm up heading into March, coach Anderson looks to intensify practice situations to simulate a live-game atmosphere.
“We’re doing some things in practice to try and emulate that game speed,”Anderson said. “We’ll do some practice where we shorten the bases from 60 feet to 50 feet so they have to react a little bit quicker.”
The Tigers will take on Louisville on Friday in Kentucky as part of the Louisville Classic. Norman pitched for the Cardinals before she transferred to Missouri after rib removal surgery in 2016.
Even if Norman is the obvious choice to start, Anderson did not verify that Norman would get the nod against her former team.
“The game doesn’t care that Madi is going to be there against her former team,” Anderson said. “We just have to go out there and control what we can control.”
After their much anticipated matchup with Louisville, the lady Tigers have a two game set against IUPUI, and one game against Indiana State before SEC play opens up against Alabama on Mar. 8th in Tuscaloosa.
Edited by Garrett Jones | email@example.com