After a tough loss, topics at the Andersons’ dinner table turn from softball or baseball to more generic ones.
“That’s when we’ll talk about the New York Giants or the Chiefs,” husband Patrick Anderson said.
But because Larissa Anderson has Missouri’s softball team at the SEC Tournament this week — ranked in the Top 15, no less — there haven’t been many reasons to change the subject lately.
What’s more, the conversations often bear fruit.
Patrick Anderson knows a bit about rounding bases. He’s spent more than two decades managing and coaching in baseball’s minor leagues, including eight years in the Kansas City Royals organization.
He’ll soon start on-site duties in West Virginia as manager of the Princeton WhistlePigs of the Appalachian League. The team is in its first year as a wood-bat developmental league for collegians, run by Major League Baseball and Baseball USA.
“So whether it’s the larger yellow ball or the smaller white ball, we usually have plenty to say to each other,” Patrick Anderson said.
Lately, it’s been all about the Tigers. Mizzou takes a 37-14 record into its SEC tourney opener Thursday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. As the No. 4 seed, Missouri received a double-bye and has its sights on hosting an NCAA Tournament regional.
The Tigers finished the regular season four spots better than their preseason projection. Their success is largely built on the strength of a lineup ranked in the top two in most SEC offensive categories, and a solid defense that ranks second in fielding percentage.
Shortstop Jenna Laird was honored as the league’s top freshman and all-SEC and outfielders Casidy Chaumont and Brooke Wilmes were selected to the all-conference second team.
Missouri finished 15-9 in SEC play, taking at least one game in every series — a mark of steadiness that Patrick Anderson said he’s picked up and employed through the years.
“One thing I’ve learned from watching her teams, she’s taught me how to be consistent and disciplined enough to stay with a message,” he said.
From her husband, Larissa Anderson has developed pitching ideas. Softball can be a game of one or two dominant pitchers throwing a majority of a team’s innings. A decade ago, Chelsea Thomas started 40 games and pitched 271 innings with 397 strikeouts in the first of her three All-America years at Mizzou.
This season, Jordan Weber, who went to Lee’s Summit West, leads the Tigers with 22 starts and 88.1 innings pitched. Larissa Anderson likes an opponent needing to prepare for multiple pitchers and styles, and she can and play the matchup game based on particular hitters.
“I’ve learned so much from him when it comes to pitching changes, and having the right matchup and how to communicate to your bullpen,” she said.
In the Royals organization from 2001-08, Patrick Anderson served as a minor-league hitting and catching instructor, and at the tail end of his tenure with the club he saw the beginnings of a World Series championship team.
He worked in Burlington, Iowa, in 2006, Luke Hochevar’s first professional season. Anderson spent the next season in Idaho Falls, where Greg Holland and Mike Moustakas made their professional debuts. A year later, he was in Burlington, N.C., where Salvador Perez and Kelvin Herrera played.
All won World Series rings in 2015.
“You saw players who maximized their abilities and their character,” Patrick Anderson said. “It was just a matter of them being able to sustain it at a high level, and they did that.”
The Andersons met at Gannon University in Erie, Pa., where she played softball and coached and he had started his coaching career. They wound up at Hofstra — Patrick left the Royals to become the head coach there — but he was back in professional baseball by 2013 as a manager in the Washington Nationals organization.
Larissa spent 17 years at Hofstra, the final four as a head coach with two NCAA appearances, before taking over the Tigers in 2018.
They’ve lived the lives of a coaching couple, sometimes in different locations, although the school year of softball and summer schedule of minor league baseball match up pretty well.
Because the Appalachian League doesn’t begin until early June, Patrick Anderson has loaded up this spring on Mizzou softball.
“A blessing in disguise,” he said. “It’s the first time in 23 years I’ve been able to watch her team play and practice. An awesome experience for me.”