The future was on display as the Missouri softball team began preparing for the 2014 season Friday.
Highly touted freshmen pitchers Tori Finucane and Casey Stangel started a game apiece, and the Tigers defeated Columbia College 9-0 and Heartland Community College 7-5 in their first two fall scrimmages.
Finucane started game one against Columbia College. She recorded at least two strikeouts in each inning she worked, including striking out the side in the second. Her day ended after four innings with nine strikeouts along with one hit and one walk allowed.
Stangel took to the circle in the first game, but started her collegiate welcome party a little early. In her just her third plate appearance at MU, Stangel lined a two-run home run over the right field wall.
“I told myself today I just wanted to hit the ball hard somewhere, so it was just kind of a bonus that it went over,” Stangel said. “I was just trying to put the barrel on it, and it was a good outcome I guess.”
Stangel wasn’t as dominant as Finucane in the circle, allowing six hits and three earned runs in five innings pitched while striking out just one. Both Stangel and coach Ehren Earleywine said these scrimmages are more about practice than perfection.
“We try to take these fall games as opportunities to strengthen their weaknesses and see what they have,” Earleywine said. “But that’s what the fall’s about, just trying to figure it out so that come spring time, hopefully we’ve kind of carved all those issues out of our way and we’re playing with our best nine on the field.”
Keeping that in perspective can be tough, though, especially when it’s your first college game. Stangel talked about working and focusing on the little things, but she couldn’t help but get excited.
“It was unreal,” Stangel said. “I was so excited all day and just being out there, I wasn’t even nervous, I was just so happy to finally be out there and be playing. It was awesome.”
Missouri will continue to work on the little things again next week when Lake Land College visits University Field for a doubleheader Sept. 27. The Tigers will host two games every Friday through Oct. 11.