The Tigers had a slow start to the 2020 season but were just finding their rhythm when the season ended. Head coach Steve Bieser returns most of the ball club from last year’s team. The fifth year head coach accumulated the most wins in his first three years at Missouri and looks to continue that success.
2019 Record: 34-22-1 (13-16-1)
2020 Record: 11-5
Perfect Game Recruiting Class: 30th
The Tigers had a few concerning losses early on in the season. Jacksonville State, Texas A&M CC and McNeese State all were able to best Missouri. The Tigers closed on a seven game winning streak however, including big wins in the Shriners Classic over No.22 Oklahoma and Texas.
Most of their wins came by a close margin. 8 of 11 wins were by a margin of three runs or less, and 10 of 11 wins were by four runs or less. There was little room for error in 2020 which put a pressure on the pitching in tight games.
Missouri will be in search of a new Friday night ace and have several options to consider. 2020 Saturday starter Konnor Ash and Sunday starter Spencer Miles will be the front runners. Ash was good in four starts last year – all four wins by the Tigers. Miles jumped into the Sunday slot after the first two weeks. He appears to be the favorite to make another leap to the Friday night starter.
Newcomer and hometown product Parker Wright may be in the mix for a weekend spot. Ben Pederson had a spot start in his first year last season and performed well. And Seth Halverson will try to take a spot in the rotation. The sophomore only saw time in the field last year but is a formidable pitcher as well and should have a shot this season. He’s been known to hit as high as 96mph on the gun.
The bullpen will be a mix of newer faces as well as several from last season. Trey Dillard will have the biggest role and was off to a great start last year. He recorded five saves in right appearances with a 1.08 ERA.
Several solid bats return from last year’s lineup. Outfielder Brandt Belk led the team last year with a .457 batting average. He’s still coming back from off-season surgery but looks ready to get back to work. Shortstop Mark Vierling has the second best batting average among returning players and should hit towards the top of the lineup with Belk.
Two guys expected to anchor the offense are Chad McDaniel and Luke Mann. McDaniel is coming off injury but should be able to fill the hole left by the departure of Peter Zimmerman. Mann had a bad first year but has been dominating in summer ball into fall.
Several other newcomers have the potential to be offensive factors. Freshmen Garrett Rice and CJ Cepicky hope to make an impact in the infield, Cepicky particularly with his speed. Transfer Torin Montgomery hit .308 with three homeruns last year with Boise State. Missouri benefited big time from the Broncos eliminating the baseball program.
The Tigers were likely better equipped to make some noise in the SEC last year. Several East programs have improved that might’ve been below the Tigers a year ago. Still, 2020 was slated for a postseason ban and the Tigers are now free to pursue an NCAA berth. Don’t count the Tigers out by any means as Bieser consistently has them in the mix for a tournament bid.
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