Mizzou softball's Chaumont brings fearless approach to NCAA Tournament
Casidy Chaumont's mindset from the outfield is simple: Do everything within her power to not let anything drop.
The Missouri softball left fielder, a walking web gem, has embodied determination throughout her first season with the Tigers. Her coaches and teammates have come to expect the speedy Chaumont to get under any ball hit within 50 feet of her.
Nearly identical full-extension diving catches into foul territory by the redshirt junior this season made it onto ESPN as part of SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays, the network's longest-running segment on its flagship show. A catch against Arkansas on April 26 ranked No. 8. Six days later on May 2, her sprawl versus Florida came in at No. 5.
In the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Chaumont dazzled again with two diving catches against LSU, coming three innings apart.
"I think like, 'OK, no balls are dropping. We're going to get to everything.' Growing up, I feel like with my parents and just everyone I was always surrounded by, that was just the goal," Chaumont said of her repertoire of diving catches. "You wanted to catch everything, do what you could. So that plays a huge role in it."
Chaumont will bring her inner-Jim Edmonds back to the NCAA Tournament as the No. 8 overall seed Tigers look to advance to their first super regional since 2016 while contending on their home field with Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Illinois-Chicago.
Missouri opens regional play against UIC at 3:30 p.m. Friday in the Tigers' first game with full capacity at Mizzou Softball Stadium since March 8, 2020.
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To prepare for playing in front of larger crowds again, Missouri head coach Larissa Anderson started piping in crowd noise at practices about a month ago, especially during communication drills. On Wednesday, a power washer cleaned the venue during practice, raising a ruckus.
The large crowds expected this weekend in Columbia are unlikely to faze Chaumont from tracking down fly balls.
"I let her be. I never ever want a player who is that fearless to be tentative. Really it's just go full-throttle," Anderson said of Chaumont's defense prowess. "Everyone else get out of her way. And I think when she's played so long next to Brooke Wilmes, it's almost like you can see the priority. It's not strictly just center field. It's Chaumont has her range and she's going to catch everything she possibly can. And then Brooke has her range and it's like everything just shifts towards the right side of the field in terms of who has the most range.
"If you can imagine, Casidy Chaumont's bubble around her in left is huge. ... But what makes her so great is her fearlessness, that she just has the personal drive that when that ball goes up, she's going to do everything in her power to catch the ball, and you really want that in an outfielder."
On a few of those top-play catches from Chaumont, Anderson's first thought as to whether the ball could've been snagged was, "There's no way."
Yet Chaumont, a Moss Bluff, Louisiana, native, has found a way to make it happen.
Moss Bluff is closer to Houston than New Orleans, about 40 miles from the Texas border. Chaumont played her first two seasons of college softball at Louisiana, with the Ragin' Cajuns making the NCAA Tournament in both years.
This season, Chaumont has three home runs, 12 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs. More impressive than that is her perfect fielding percentage.
"The first semester here, I was aware that it snowed. But how to drive in it, I wasn't prepared for. I hydroplaned a couple times," Chaumont said with a laugh. "But other than that, I really like (Columbia). It's really growing on me."
This weekend will be the first time Mizzou Softball Stadium hosts an NCAA regional, with the Tigers also in line to host a super regional if they advance.
"I think confidence-wise, we just kind of feed off one another," Chaumont said. "We know we can handle any team. We know that we play together, we know how one another plays. I think that it's really just trusting each other and knowing our goal. And something coach always says is, 'The hay is already in the barn.'
"So we have all the skills we need. Our mindset is right. We've just got to go out there and play the game."
Contact Eric Blum at email@example.com. Follow @ByEricBlum on Twitter.
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