What goes into a winning team in college softball? It starts with a head coach that knows how to motivate their players and who can surround themselves with assistant coaches that can teach skills to the players.
The University of Missouri has one of those head coaches needed in Larissa Anderson and they know it having recently extended her contract through the 2026 season.
In 2022 Anderson enters her fourth season at Mizzou using her talents to build the Tigers into a perennial powerhouse making it both into the NCAA Tournament in 2019 and even hosting a Super Regional in 2021.
Even the best head coaches still need to recruit talented players to win and Anderson has done that with a stacked lineup for 2022.
In 2021 Missouri went 42-17 overall, and 15-9 in the SEC. The Tigers did lose well known and respected assistant/hitting coach, Chris Malveaux, who after two years with Missouri made the move to Tennessee this season.
While the team loses Cayla Kessinger, (.327 BA, 14 HR, 34 RBI) who decided for mental health reasons not to return to the team to play for her super senior year, Mizzou returns all their other regular players who last season were just one win away from making the Women’s College World Series losing in the NCAA Columbia Super Regional to James Madison in a best of three series 2-1 games.
Those returning players include, Brooke Wilmes who started all 59 games for Mizzou in center field in 2021 batting for a .373 average along with 79 hits, 16 doubles, 13 home runs, 55 RBI, and 17 stolen bases. Wilmes also done well on the defensive side of things having a fielding percentage of .987 and six outfield assists.
There’s also reigning SEC Freshman of the Year Jenna Laird, who also started all 59 games last season at shortstop for the team. She had a bating average of .369 with 69 hits, 13 doubles, two triples, eight home runs and 38 RBI along with going a perfect 12-for-12 in stolen base attempts.
Catcher Hatti Moore, (.320 BA, 17 HR, 50 RBI) and infielder Kimberly Wert, (.299 BA, 17 HR, 48 RBI) are also back with lots of power hitting to add to the Tigers’ roster.
All that power is good but if your pitching isn’t equally as good most games will turn into nothing more then home run contest. Luckily Mizzou doesn’t have that problem. Mizzou likes the pitch by committee approach and have built a well rounded staff that includes, Jordan Weber, (2.82 ERA, 12-7 W/L, 105 SO), Lauren Krings, (3.68 ERA, 11-3 W/L,122 SO), Megan Schumacher, (10-3 W/L, 37 SO), and Emma Nichols, (2.94 ERA, 6-3 W/L, 47 SO) to work in the circle for them.
While games aren’t played on paper looking at Mizzou’s roster it’s hard to find an area of weakness with this team. And with all the youth this team should be around for several years getting their share of wins.
Mizzou should have no trouble making the NCAA Tournament this year and going to the WCWS.