- Marlene Lacasse/Daily
By Nate Sell, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 18, 2013
Sara Driesenga and the Michigan defense continued to look dominant in their second-straight shutout of the NCAA Tournament, defeating California 5-0. Although Driesenga didn’t have a no-hitter going like she did against Valparaiso, she was still able to get after the Golden Bear hitters and keep them off the scoreboard.
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“I have a lot of respect for Cal,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “We know how good they are and as I said on ESPN, ‘the way to beat a good pitcher is to have a good pitcher,’ and I thought our effort on the mound was fantastic.”
Driesenga had a little trouble finding the strike zone in the first inning, allowing a single into center field and a walk, but she got out of the inning without allowing a run. In the bottom of the first, Michigan got two walks to get on base but ultimately couldn’t drive them in.
In the second, Driesenga found the strike zone again and Michigan’s defense had a quick 1-2-3 inning that included Driesenga’s second strikeout of the game. To start the bottom of the second, senior second baseman Ashley Lane was walked, followed by bunt by sophomore catcher Lauren Sweet. Lane and Sweet then stole third and second, respectively, off a bobble by the catcher. Driesenga got walked to load the bases with no outs as freshman outfielder Sierra Lawrence stepped up to the plate. Lawrence got on base and brought Lane home off of a Cal error. Senior third baseman Amy Knapp drove in another run before junior outfielder Lyndsay Doyle hit into a double play to end the inning with Michigan up 3-0.
The strong pitching for both teams shined in the third when neither team was able to get a hit. Driesenga gave up two hits in the fourth to put runners on first and third with two outs but got out of the inning after a fly ball was hit right at Lawrence to keep the Golden Bears off the scoreboard.
When Sweet stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fourth, she launched the first pitch she saw over the left-field wall for a solo home run to put the Wolverines up four. California promptly made a pitching change and retired the next three Michigan batters.
Driesenga gave up two hits early in the fifth with only one out before forcing a groundout to pick up the second out. With runners on second and third, Cal popped out to Lawrence again to end the inning without a run scored.
Errors continued to hurt the Golden Bears in the fifth when a bobbled ball in the infield allowed junior outfielder Nicole Sappingfield to get on base. With two outs, junior first baseman Caitlin Blanchard hit a single to put two on for Lane who was unable to capitalize and left them stranded.
Driesenga continued to look strong in the top of the sixth, starting with two straight strikeouts. She surrendered a walk but got the next batter to fly out to center to end the inning.
“When the pitcher is on her game and containing the offense it gives our team confidence, and confidence is the most important thing we have,” Hutchins said.
Sweet blasted her second solo homer of the game over the centerfield wall in the bottom of the sixth to push the lead to five.
Sweet finished the day with a hit at all three of her at-bats and two RBI. Her two homeruns are the easy thing to notice, but it was her bunt in the second inning that really helped the team eventually put points on the board.
“Hutch always tells us getting our bunts down is the most important thing,” Sweet said. “Bunts are huge in the game. You don’t realize it until the runs score.”