Look into Softball Past Success
The 1997 Missouri softball team didn't just win the Big 12 regular season championship. They went on to win the leagues tournament title. Ten years later the Tiger women still hold a special place in Mizzou athletics, but they wouldn't mind some company. On a rainy day in October during a Missouri football game, the 1997 Missouri softball team came back to hear the cheers all over again.
"I think this fall when they had us all back it was a great experience. We were so happy and we were recognized on the football field. That was really, really neat," said former Missouri outfielder Stacy Gemeinhardt.
"The 1997 season started a little rough, but as the season continued to grow and build the championship was within our reach," remembered former pitcher Barb Riti.
Barb now still lives in Columbia and cherishes the memories of the softball title ten years ago.
"I just remember that final week leading up to the game against Kansas. We knew we weren't going to lose," said Riti.
"Everybody was full of great players and full of great leadership. As a freshman I think that I was just kind of along for the ride," said Gemeinhardt.
Stacey Gemeinhardt started in left field and hit in the 9 hole.
"I had a great time. I actually made the final catch of the Big 12 Tournament. It was definitely a great experience," recalled Gemeinhardt.
Gemeinhardt is still smiling on the Big 12 softball field. She calls the shots as the head coach at Iowa State.
"I think being a freshman I didn't realize what it was that we had accomplished. Going through the next three years and now being a coach in the Big 12 you realize how hard it is," explained Gemeinhardt.
"We knew it was something special and something new. Did I think it was going to be ten years later the only. No, I thought the flood gates would open," said Riti.
The trophy from 1997 sits in a lonely trophy case in the Missouri athletic training center. The Tigers went to an NCAA regional in Iowa City, Iowa, but took a devastating hit before the games ever started.
"We got some food poisoning and some kids ended up in the hospital. We ended up not practicing on our practice day. We just had to go out and play. We didn't play very well," said Gemeinhardt.
"Six of us were on IVs and I was one of them. We skipped the banquet. Got ready for our game the next day and by the fifth inning I was out of gas," recalled Riti.
The feeling of food poisoning continues in Mizzou Athletics. A decade later this is still the only shot of a Missouri team holding a Big 12 Championship trophy.
When I introduce myself to my students, I say the first and only team to win a Big 12 Championship, but I hope that changes," said Riti.
Just this school year nine different Big 12 schools won team championships. Kansas state is the only other school without a Big 12 championship in the last three years.
Barb Wright went on to play professional softball for the Durham Dragons, but that only lasted a few months. She is now a teacher at Hickman high school.