Ten Thoughts for Monday Morning
1) Perhaps Missouri's best chance at a national championship begins this weekend. Not that the softball team is a favorite to win one, but for most of the last 15 years, the Tigers have had a team that makes you feel like it has a chance when the NCAA Tournament starts. That's true again this year, though it didn't always look that way. I asked Larissa Anderson on Sunday night if there was a time where she thought hosting a regional was off the table and if she had brought that up to her players. She laughed and said after the announcement the players were reminding her of a team meeting she held after the Ole Miss series. That was March 27 and the Tigers stood just 19-12 overall coming off a sweep that left them 0-5 in SEC play. Anderson told the team it was time to reassess its goals. Forget winning the SEC. Forget hosting a regional. They needed to worry about qualifying for the NCAA Tournament. To do that, they'd need to find eight more wins the rest of the season. That would get them above .500 and at least make them eligible to be selected. That was the only goal.
It didn't happen right away. After sweeping South Carolina, Mizzou lost the next two SEC series and stood just 5-9 in the league. The Tigers didn't lose again until the final weekend of the regular season and went 11-3 after the Georgia series. That got them not only into the NCAA Tournament, but earned them the No. 15 overall seed and the right to play the first weekend of the tournament at home.
2) The opponents in the regional will be Missouri State, Arizona and Illinois. Arizona is a traditional power, but was just 8-16 in PAC-12 play this year and lost the only two games it played against SEC opponents. Illinois was 15-7 in the Big Ten, but just 19-13 outside of it, including two losses to Mizzou. The Illini did beat Arkansas and LSU during the season, though, and on paper are probably the toughest competition. The opening game opponent is Missouri State. The Bears and Tigers haven't played each other in eight years during the spring season. They played regularly before that, but in 2015, the Tigers were trying to schedule a game with the Bears. Then Missouri State head coach Holly Hesse declined, listing three reasons, all having to do with Ehren Earleywine:
1) “Ehren was overheard saying to his team after our game this year that they should have run ruled us because we were no better than a ‘5A High School Team.’ His total disrespect for our program and our players in unacceptable.”
2) “It is widely known that Ehren consistently disregards the NCAA recruiting rules. In our view, winning only has meaning if it is done fairly and within the rules.”
3) “While at Killian Stadium in April your team spit sunflower seeds in the dugout and on the turf despite the sign that says ‘No sunflower seeds.’ Again, a sign of total disrespect for the rules, our program and facility.”
It was Earleywine's response that really made it a story:“Wow! Are you serious holly? Big accusations about my character and no clue of what you’re talking about,” he wrote. “This isn’t really about my character though, its about yours… or lack there of. The truth of the matter is you’re scared to get your ass whipped yet again by old mizzou. Have the courage to say what it really is and quit hiding behind your phony excuses. You’ve been ducking us for awhile now and you know it. Pull your tail out from between your legs and learn how to compete. I bet your players see right through you like i do. Why dont you do the right thing and show these impressionable young ladies how to face a challenge instead of running from one? If/when you decide to be a big girl, you know how to get ahold of me. In the meantime, If you need tips on how to compete against mu, ask coach guttin. Ps this current arrangement is actually good for my team because even when we trounce you, our rpi drops. Last time I checked you were at 118. I have to give you credit though, you’ve been able to keep your job despite being horseshit for so long. Hats off…”
God bless Ehren Earleywine and God bless open records requests. Hesse is still the Missouri State head coach. Earleywine, not so much.
3) On the baseball side of things, the Tigers are in the final week of the season in all likelihood.
Whether you are looking for more space to host those game day parties or looking to upgrade, Stein & Summers is your #1 fan in helping you find the home of your dreams! We have over 100 licensed agents servicing Kansas City, St. Joseph, and surrounding areas - including Kansas! Interest rates are at a record low while homes sales prices are at a record high! Contact us today to get started.