Stepping up: Genovese improves to lead team

The junior infielder boosted her average over 80 points.

Corrin Genovese just keeps climbing higher.

The junior infielder has been invaluable both offensively and defensively this season, helping the No. 16 Missouri softball team to a (32-10, 9-6 Southeastern Conference) record.

As a freshman in 2012, Genovese played both third and second base before becoming the starting shortstop, starting in all but one of the Tigers’ 61 games. Her flexibility and .978 fielding percentage earned her the title of Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, the first freshman in conference history to win the award.

The next year, her batting average improved from .220 to .303. She had 40 hits throughout 50 games in 2013, surpassing her total from the previous year by four.

Coach Ehren Earleywine said Genovese’s upward journey is only continuing.

“Historically, everyone knows Corrin can play defense,” Earleywine said. “I think the question has always been, ‘How much offense is she going to provide for you?’ And this year she’s stinging it pretty good. When she gives you the kind of defense that she has and then you add her bat to it, it’s making for a nice season for Corrin.”

And a nice season it has been, indeed.

Genovese leads the SEC in batting average for league games, hitting .462. Among the Tigers, the shortstop is second on the team in slugging percentage at .603 and comes in third with a batting average of .397.

But she shrugs off the statistics.

“I’m just trying to stay in each at-bat,” she said. “I’m not trying to make it bigger than it is, and worrying about the batting average is not any way to be a consistent player.”

If there’s one thing Genovese has been consistent at, it’s producing hits. She hit two home runs in an eight-run third inning in Missouri’s 8-6 win over No. 13 Georgia on March 28.

Other notable conference performances this year came in a series against Mississippi State, when she went 6-for-12 with six hits and five RBIs. Genovese also went 7-for-11 with two runs and an RBI in the Tigers’ most recent road sweep of No. 20 Auburn, including a solo home run.

Senior outfielder Mackenzie Sykes, the Tigers’ leader in RBIs and home runs, acknowledges her teammate’s clutch hitting.

“Corrin is always a big time player and always seems to step up into the crunch-time situations,” Sykes said. “She’s always been consistent defensively and now she is with the bat, and that’s awesome to see. She’s got great fight and charisma with her, and it’s awesome to see her doing so well.”

Genovese already has four home runs this year, tying her career-high from her freshman season. She has also recorded 44 total bases, almost surpassing her 2013 total bases, 52, while having played eight fewer games.

“I’m making my focus hitting hard ground balls and hard line drives and getting inside the ball,” Genovese said. “That’s really taken my approach to the next level, and I think I’ve been hitting well this year, but there’s room for improvement, and I’m excited to keep getting at it.”

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