Missouri hosts James Madison this weekend in the Tigers’ first super regional appearance since 2016. Tickets for the games sold out Thursday, with fans allowed back at full capacity in Mizzou Softball Stadium.
Missouri coach Larissa Anderson said the energy and excitement is high among supporters in the community and around the country.
“The atmosphere is going to be awesome,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be all Mizzou, so I expect a lot of intensity. I expect the crowd to be on our side. It’s great to play in our own ballpark.” The team has also gathered support from other MU athletic programs and coaches and has built a following in the community. The chance to play for a spot in the Women’s College World Series has fans around the university and the city excited.
“(I’m) really excited,” Craig Buechter, a Missouri fan who plans on attending Friday’s game, said. “Just hoping to see the girls put a few good games together, or at least a couple good games together, and get on to the World Series.”
The anticipation is also being felt in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and among JMU fans across the country. This is the third time in five years that the Dukes have made the super regionals, and their fans have high hopes of making the WCWS.
“I think everybody’s so excited,” Carol Benassi, an admin of a James Madison fan group on Facebook called JMU Nation, said. “Everybody would obviously love to see a win, but Missouri has a great team too, so I would be shocked if this didn’t come down to a three-game series. ... I think everybody’s cautiously optimistic but knows that we’re going to have a real battle ahead of us this weekend.”
At 37-1, James Madison enters the series with the best record in the country. The Colonial Athletic Association champions come into the weekend on the back of a 27-game winning streak, last tasting defeat March 27 in a 5-4 loss at Elon.
That success has the team confident it can make the program’s first-ever WCWS. Last season, the Tigers and Dukes faced each other in St. Petersburg, Florida, in a game that JMU won 8-7 in eight innings.
“JMU, as a program, typically have confidence they can beat the Power Five programs,” Harrisonburg Daily News-Record James Madison sports reporter Shane Mettlen said. “They tend to go .500 or better against teams from the SEC, Big 12 and stuff in their regular-season schedules, so they have some confidence that they definitely at least have a chance this week.” But among Missouri fans there is an aura of confidence that they will see their team compete in the WCWS for the first time since 2011. Like the coaches and players have reiterated throughout the season, fans feel as though their team has been overlooked in the past.