After taking down a ranked opponent last Sunday for the first time in the Division I era of the program, the Mavericks are once again back on the field this weekend. It’s a quick turnaround, but they’ll take on another power 5 opponent in the Missouri Tigers.
Since making the jump to Division I in 2012, Omaha has only faced an SEC opponent four times. Two of those being games against Missouri in 2012 and 2013, and the latter two against Kentucky in 2015.
The Mavericks went winless in all of those, which means the program will still be looking for its first win over a team from the baseball powerhouse of the SEC this weekend. The Mavericks will get four chances.
The Tigers were picked to finish sixth out of seven teams in the SEC East. Mizzou is coming off a lackluster showing on the road last weekend against Grand Canyon, where they were outscored by the Lopes 38-17 over four games. They did pick up their lone win on the back half of a Saturday doubleheader, 9-7, as they survived a late-game comeback by GCU.
As a team, the Tigers haven’t struggled at the plate and they’re hitting .265 through four games. A good chunk of that production came from catcher Chad McDaniel, who is 5-for-10 in three games, one of them being a home run.
Pitching is a different story. Over the four-game series, Missouri only had a starter go more than three innings once. Their four starters combined for just 10.2 innings pitched and gave up 17 earned runs.
For the Mavericks, it’s the other way around. Omaha struggled at the plate at times in Norman, but understandably so considering the quality of pitching the team faced. Only Harrison Denk and Brett Bonar have more than one hit on the year, and the team has struck out in 41 percent of their plate appearances.
On the mound, Omaha has been solid besides a forgettable eighth inning in Monday’s game. Joey Machado acted as an opener on Sunday and went two innings before turning it over to junior Spencer Koelewyn. The two combined for five innings and only allowed three runs.
Jacob Mohler, who looks to be the Maverick closer, notched his first save of the season as well. Richie Holetz also continued to impress. In his last 18.1 innings dating back to last season, Holetz has a 0.99 WHIP, 0.49 ERA, and 17 strikeouts.
Machado is expected to start on Friday followed by some combination of Koelewyn and Holetz on Saturday for the twinbill. Sunday’s starter is still to be determined.
Head coach Evan Porter revealed on The Nick Handley Show Wednesday that the Mavericks received another clean slate of test results this past week. “They have been doing so great this last month and a half,” Porter said.
The team itself has been on top of the always-changing landscape this pandemic has caused too. That’s already been seen this season with the series at Oregon being canceled, and the Oklahoma games being added on short notice.
Porter said that the team will travel to road games in four to five vans rather than one bus just to keep the team more isolated in case a positive test arises.
There will also be fans in the stands for this weekend’s games, as Missouri Athletics opted for a 25 percent capacity for spring sports. That means 600 people can attend. None of the games will be televised until the series finale on Sunday, which will be aired on SEC Network+.
First pitch of the four-game series in Columbia is set for 3 p.m. on Friday.