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Michigan vs. Missouri: Super Regional Preview

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In one of the most action-packed weekends of the year for softball fans, we will focus on just one match-up in particular: the Tigers vs. the Wolverines. The Big Ten and the SEC clash today in Ann Arbor.

MGoBlog

As the weekend opened, sixteen teams were left standing: Michigan, Missouri, Florida State, Utah, Oregon, UCLA, Alabama, Washington, Auburn, Arizona, James Madison, LSU, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Louisiana-Lafayette. After this weekend, eight elite teams will remain.

But a tough challenge awaits before the Wolverines can claim one of the spots in the Women's College World Series. The Missouri Tigers (42-14) come into town on a bit of a hot streak to take on Carol Hutchins' Wolverines (49-5). Both teams are nursing ambitions of glory and legacy, but this will be the final set of games for one of them. The Tigers bring a formidable lineup and some good pitching to this weekend's rubber match.

Missouri's Hitters

AB R H HR RBI BA OBP SLG% OPS SB SO / BB
Taylor Gadbois CF 179 53 72 1 18 .402 .460 .453 .913 54-59 22 / 18
Emily Crane RF 164 64 68 17 61 .415 .534 .829 1.363 25-28 7 / 38
Sami Fagan SS 160 58 68 11 54 .425 .560 .688 1.248 26-29 8 / 44
Amanda Sanchez 3B 168 25 62 6 42 .369 .456 .530 .986 3-3 14 / 21
Chloe Rathburn DP 170 26 56 14 58 .329 .374 .641 1.015 5-6 17 / 11
Regan Nash LF 137 33 47 0 12 .343 .396 .358 .754 22-24 21 / 10
Kolby Romaine 2B 64 10 10 4 12 .156 .194 .359 .553 1-1 9 / 3
Kirsten Mack C 145 29 37 4 22 .255 .368 .372 .740 4-4 15 / 23
Rylee Pierce 1B 146 36 47 7 29 .322 .431 .527 .958 12-13 33 / 25

The Tigers have a .328 team batting average (compared to .356 for Michigan) and a 3.03 earned run average (Michigan's is 1.98). The combination of power and speed is very good: 70 home runs on the year and 163 stolen bases. Luckily, Michigan has a veteran catcher it can rely on in Aidan Falk.

Missouri's Pitchers
IP ERA W-L WHIP Strikeouts SO/BB Ratio
Paige Lowary 185.0 3.10 25-6 1.45 143 1.44
Danielle Baumgartner 109.1 1.98 14-4 1.31 53 2.21
Tori Finucane 37.2 5.39 0-3 1.62 34 1.36
Cheyenne Baxter 30.1 3.46 3-1 1.62 23 1.05

It's also worth noting that no one in the field of sixteen is batting better than Michigan's Sierra Romero, who is one of three finalists for National Player of the Year honors. And, few have a pitcher with as high of a ceiling as Megan Betsa when all her pitches are working.

Still, at the end of the day, it's not about the talent; it's about teamwork and the tenacity to get the job done. Lately, Michigan has had that. They'll need to bring that same level of focus this weekend - Missouri is too talented to toy around with without getting burnt. Getting some of Michigan's slumping hitters back in a groove wouldn't hurt our chances, either. There's a reasonable chance that will happen.

Anyway, Game 1 starts today at 3:00 PM, with Games 2 and 3 happening tomorrow. Feel free to spend some time here for an open thread later on.