2012 Record: 33-28, 10-14 Big 12
2012 Finish: Sixth Big 12
2012 Postseason: Won Big 12 Tournament, Lost in Tucson Regional
The Missouri Tigers surprised a lot of people at the end of last year.
They got hot in Oklahoma City and claimed the Big 12 Tournament title, which guaranteed them a spot in the NCAA Tournament, a feat that, otherwise, would not have happened.
But Missouri’s hot run was stomped out quickly in the Tucson Regional — a regional hosted by the eventual national champions — and the team was sent back to Columbia, Mo., without the ultimate prize but with a sense of hope for the future.
But now the Tigers are in the SEC, which is a whole different breed of college baseball. As a whole, the pitching is better than it was in the Big 12,
Luckily for Missouri, it returns its top hitter in junior Scott Sommerfeld, who hit a .312 clip last season.
The team also brings back its top slugger in senior Dane Opel. The lefty outfielder hit 11 homers and drove in 46 runs — both of which were team highs — while collecting a .283 batting average.
The Tigers have some work to do on the mound they totaled a 4.34 ERA. However, they do return junior lefty Rob Zastryzny, who in 17 starts earned a 5-5 record and 3.80 ERA.
This year could be one full of growing pains for Missouri considering the powerhouse conference it enters, but the team has the pieces to threaten the top dogs on weekends.
Key Series: vs. South Carolina, March 15-17 — Missouri needs to get off to a fast start in SEC play. Unfortunately for the Tigers, that first series is against a team that has played in the College World Series championship round in each of the last three seasons. If they do come out with a series win — or even a single win — people will see this squad as a team that shouldn’t be overlooked and as a pushover.