COLUMBIA — It can be hard keeping up with the Missouri softball team.
From Texas to California and now to Florida on Friday, the team seems to be constantly on the go at the start of the season. Keeping up with weekends where the Tigers can play as many as five games from miles away can get tricky for fans.
The Citrus Classic will be held from Friday-Sunday in Kissimmee, Fla.
No. 17 Missouri will face Bradley at 2:30 p.m. Friday, followed by Syracuse at 4:45 p.m. The game against Syracuse will be available on ESPN3.
The Tigers will face Illinois State at 12:15 p.m Saturday, followed by Radford at 2:30 p.m.
Missouri will finish the tournament against Ohio State at 9 a.m. Sunday.
That's where the Tigers' Twitter account, @MizzouSoftball, can help. If watching live stats on a computer screen on a Friday night isn't your thing, the team's tweets provide play-by-play with a bit more color.
With all the hashtags and lingo squeezed into 140 characters or less, though, some of the tweets might need further explanation. Here are a few common things you might see:
A tweet from last weekend in Missouri's game against Fordham read, "B3: Gadbois gets on base with a one-out single up to the Fordham 2B. And weird. She steals to second base. #SECSpeed."
The tweet was rich with sarcasm, as sophomore outfielder Taylor Gadbois has 10 steals already this season. With the help of her "SEC speed," that's already more than the six total she had last season.
Gadbois doesn't take all the credit, though. She doesn't usually think to steal before the coaches give her the signal.
But she does have a strategy.
"Before, if he doesn’t give me the steal, I always make sure I’m getting off hard to make them think that I’m always going," Gadbois said with a verbal version of SEC speed. "And so then when I do get the steal sign, a lot of things get thrown at me. Oh gosh, I have to, like, get a good jump on this one, all that stuff."
She focuses on her first step. If that's good, she'll be safe. She turns to the outside in case the other team overthrows it, allowing her to more easily get to third if possible.
Gadbois went 7-for-9 in stolen base attempts last weekend at the Mary Nutter Classic in Cathedral City, Calif., helping the Tigers average 2.5 steals a game as a team so far.
This is another common, but more unusual, hashtag @MizzouSoftball uses. "B1: #FinuclearBomb No. 1. Two outs (credit for @Stangel24 on the hashtag creativity)."
The hashtag simply refers to a strikeout by freshman pitcher Tori Finucane. It's caught on a bit better than the similar one for fellow freshman pitcher Casey Stangel.
"We were in the airport thinking about funny hashtags with Patrick (Crawford, the softball assistant director of strategic communications), and we needed something good for Tori, and then we just came up with #FinuclearBomb, and then we were laughing," Stangel said. "We were making fun of him because I struck someone out and he said something like, 'Put that in the #CaseFile,' and I was like, 'Really?'"
Crawford challenged the freshmen to come up with something better, so #FinuclearBomb has stuck.
It's an appropriate hashtag. Finucane has tallied 22 strikeouts so far, with a season-high of eight in a 2-0 win against then-No. 14 Arizona on Feb. 20.
"I have just, like, the weirdest last name, so it was kinda the only thing that really worked, too," Finucane said.
A tweet from Monday read, "Wishing a happy birthday to one of our biggest fans — the one and only Grandma Betty (@gramcrackker)!"
It came complete with a photo of sophomore second baseman/outfielder Emily Crane and her grandmother Betty Schulze.
"Grandma does have a Twitter," Crane said. "@gramcrackker, two K's. I helped her think of it, let's be real."
"Grandma Betty" frequently interacts with the team through Twitter, but she isn't just another fan.
"If you guys know Emily Crane," Gadbois said when describing Schulze, "just picture her in a couple years."
Crane, who admits she's not a serious person, treasures having her grandmother follow her to every game — physically and on the Web. Schulze hasn't missed a tournament or a weekend, even when the team jumps from California to Florida, like this weekend.
But she's not just the grandma in the stands. Schulze coached the varsity softball team at Crane's high school, Troy Buchanan. Crane's mother coached after that.
Softball has been in the family.
"She knows the game," Crane said. "It definitely helps because I can not only talk to her in the grandma sense … but I can talk to her about something in the game."
Schulze will, of course, be with the Tigers as they compete in the Citrus Classic this weekend in Kissimmee, Fla.
But like @gramcrackker, everyone else can use Twitter to keep up.
Supervising editor is Sean Morrison.