Missouri softball players come together to celebrate

Missouri softball players come together to celebrate after scoring against Texas A&M. The Tigers were picked at the No. 15 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.

The NCAA selection committee tabbed Missouri softball as the No. 15 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday. As part of the top 16, the Tigers (36-20) will host the Columbia Regional, which will be played as a double-elimination tournament beginning Friday. Arizona (33-20), Illinois (34-20) and Missouri State (27-18) complete the Columbia Regional.

The Tigers’ first matchup will be against Missouri State on Friday.

Missouri entered the season with high expectations, but after losing twice to Tennessee and dropping three games to Ole Miss, the Tigers started the season 19-12 overall and 0-5 in the SEC.

“I was at Ole Miss — and they all just reminded me of my team meeting that I had — we were actually counting games to make sure that we could get above .500 to have an opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament,” Missouri coach Larissa Anderson said.

Anderson said when the team was at Ole Miss, it had a meeting to reevaluate the goals it had made in January.

“I said, ‘You’re not gonna host, so let’s put that out of the table. You’re not hosting this year,’” she said. “We gotta refocus on what we’re trying to do. Let’s first get above .500 so we can even have a shot to go.’ And then the story continued to be written.”

The Tigers’ turnaround began when they swept then-No. 9 Kentucky on the road. Missouri returned home the following weekend and swept Texas A&M. After losing two out of three games in a tight series against then-No. 6 Alabama, Missouri downed Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee in the SEC Tournament before falling to Arkansas in the championship.

“Just to be able to actually come out and play for the fans again, it’s just such an amazing opportunity, because when you have that idea that you don’t think you’re ever gonna be able to play on your home field anymore and then you come back and you actually figure out that you’re hosting, it’s just such an honor,” outfielder Brooke Wilmes said.

Originally published on columbiamissourian.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.

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