Mizzou Softball Finishes Sixth in NFCA Poll
COLUMBIA - The Missouri softball team concluded their 2011 campaign with the No. 6 overall ranking in the final USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 poll. The sixth place finish is the highest final ranking that the program has ever received, besting their No. 8 finish in both 2009 and 2010.
The Tigers made the Women's College World Series for the third straight season, where they won their first WCWS game in 20 years. After dropping their opening contest, Missouri bounced back with a 4-1 win over rival Oklahoma in the first elimination game, marking the first time since 1994 that the Tigers beat the Sooners three times in a single season. The Tigers were eliminated in a 13 inning heartbreaker against another Big 12 opponent, the Baylor Bears, by a 1-0 final. Redshirt sophomore Chelsea Thomas struck out 19 batters in the contest, the second most in a single game in WCWS history.
Also for the third straight year, Mizzou set a new program record for wins in a season, as they once again topped the 50-victory mark. The Tigers finished the year with 53 wins, besting last season's 51 win campaign and 2009's 50 win season. Over the last three season, Missouri has compiled a record of 154-35, good for a .815 winning percentage. With their 53-10 record this season, Missouri finished with the third-best winning percentage in the country at .841.
The Missouri pitching staff finished the year with the most strikeouts in program history with 539 - the first Tiger team to ever strike out more than 500 batters in a single season - while also posting a 1.40 earned run average, tied for third-lowest in the nation. The 2011 offense hit 67 home runs, second-most ever in a season at Mizzou, while also drawing over 200 walks for the fifth straight year.
Mizzou graduates nine student-athletes from undoubtedly the most successful senior class in program history, but will welcome in 10 of the most highly-touted freshmen that the program has ever seen. Returning for the Tigers are their top two pitchers - Thomas, who led the country with a 0.95 ERA and was one of three finalists for USA Softball's National Player of the Year award, and Kristin Nottlemann, who finished the year at 17-1, giving her the best winning percentage in a single season at Mizzou. Missouri also brings back 2011 All-American Ashley Fleming and 2011 All-Big 12 First Team selections Jenna Marston and Nicole Hudson.