Positioning

What a new hitting coach could mean for Missouri softball in 2023 – Columbia Daily Tribune

future-dyanmics

Missouri softball is in the market for a new hitting coach. Michaela Transue, who had been with the program since 2019, resigned, a Missouri athletics representative confirmed to the Tribune on Tuesday.
Transue’s departure came after a lack of offensive consistency cost the Tigers in the Columbia Regional of the NCAA Tournament, where Missouri fell to Arizona after being unable to muster a single run in two games against the Wildcats 
With the roster in a transitional phase, here is what a new coach in a key spot could mean for the Tigers going forward. 
More: Familiar problem costs Mizzou softball its season in NCAA Regional finals
Missouri’s pitching appears to be in an outstanding spot entering the 2023 season. The Tigers have two aces in Jordan Weber and Laurin Krings, both of whom can shut down hitters and perform at their best when the stakes are high. 
The two also showed the ability to get out of jams, meaning the Tigers were under less pressure, even with runners on base in key moments. 
The roster is turning over in many places, but the team also put a strong defense behind the pitching staff, bailing out its pitchers and keeping the margins close. The combination of defense and pitching made up for the lack of offense at various points throughout the season, particularly in the SEC Tournament, when Missouri earned wins by scores of 3-0, 1-0 and 3-0 again. 
If the Tigers are able to boost their offense in 2023, particularly improving their ability to string hits together instead of relying on home runs, they may find themselves in a stronger position.  
The issue wasn’t that the Tigers never got a bat on the ball. They did, and several players had strong seasons from the plate.  
The Tigers flashed the ability to score runs in bunches throughout the season, notably in a series sweep at Kentucky, where Missouri scored 13 runs in the first game, before bringing across eight and seven in each of the last two. The potential was there. 
Unfortunately, the team had a tendency to go cold in critical situations. Even with loaded bases, it was never a guarantee that the Tigers would score. 
Missouri finished 12th out of the 13 SEC softball teams (Vanderbilt doesn’t sponsor the sport) in batting average at .274. The Tigers finished dead last in on-base percentage at .356. 
It’s no guarantee that a hitting coach change will be a quick fix for the offensive struggles. However, with the team finishing 12th in runs scored with 289, any improvement will be welcome as Missouri looks to advance to the NCAA Tournament once again. 
It’s a time of change for Missouri, even absent a coaching change. The 2022 Tigers were led by a strong crop of seniors, including top contributors Brooke Wilmes, Kim Wert and Kendyll Bailey. 
For 2023, those players, who helped lead the way to the super regional in 2021 and the recent regional appearance, will be gone. In their place will be a roster of younger players, many of whom were contributors to recent success. 
Kara Daly was a freshman in 2022, starting at third base and showing off serious defensive talent. She batted .270 through the season and improved as the year went by. 
Jenna Laird, who settled into the leadoff position as a sophomore, was an offensive bright spot in 2022. The shortstop batted .338 for the season and contributed 20 RBIs. 
What the 2023 Tiger lineup will look like is murkier than it was entering the 2022 season. However, with Daly and Laird, along with Alex Honnold, some production will return, and a new hitting coach will have the opportunity to build chemistry with a new cast of characters.  
Matt Stahl is the Missouri athletics beat reporter for the Columbia Daily Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @mattstahl97.

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future-dyanmics

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