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Michigan wins only game of weekend after four games cancelled

Nicholas Williams/Daily
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By Jake Lourim, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 2, 2014

Rain in Southern California washed away two games against No. 5 UCLA this weekend for the Michigan softball team.

All that remained was a matchup with the Wolverines of winless Utah Valley.

Michigan (13-2) pulled away late to shake off Utah Valley late Saturday, 7-1, the only completed game on a five-game schedule that included the showdowns against UCLA and battles with Nevada and Long Beach State.

“It’s disappointing, obviously — we came out here to play ball,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “We can’t control it, and as we always say, champions adjust. Our kids have done a good job of dealing with what we’ve had to deal with.”

The Wolverines already had another matchup against UCLA scheduled for Wednesday at UCLA, so they will either play the Bruins Tuesday as well or in a doubleheader Wednesday.

After two games had been postponed and the game against Utah Valley delayed, Michigan started its first game more than 24 hours after it was scheduled. The weekend was mostly lost except for a quick tune-up against the other Wolverines.

For five innings, the battle between the sixth-ranked Wolverines and the 0-13 Wolverines wasn’t the mismatch it looked like. Michigan scratched out a run in the first and a run in the third but left eight on base in the first five innings, allowing Utah Valley into the game.

“We rely on the big inning,” Hutchins said. “I’d like to see us start up earlier and (hit) the ball the way we do in batting practice. I don’t think our power numbers are where they could be, and I think we can be attacking better than we are. We’re a work in progress, and I think we’ll get there.”

In the end, the Wolverines generated one of the big innings that have powered the offense all season. This time, it started not with a hit or a walk but a lineout to center field by senior infielder Lindsay Montemarano.

Hutchins said that lineout woke up the team a bit, and then came the rally. Freshman second baseman Abby Ramirez and senior outfielder Lyndsay Doyle reached base with walks. With two outs, the Wolverines strung together four straight singles — one each by sophomore shortstop Sierra Romero, junior senior first baseman Caitlin Blanchard, sophomore outfielder Sierra Lawrence and sophomore designated player Kelsey Susalla—bringing home five runs.

After the sixth inning, a downpour started again that ended the game 7-1 and finished both teams’ weekends for good.

For most of the game, another dominant pitching performance bailed out the stagnant offense. Junior right-hander Sara Driesenga and junior left-hander Haylie Wagner combined for six innings of three-hit ball, during which only two balls got out of the infield.

Hutchins replaced Driesenga after a one-run, two-hit third inning that tied the game. Wagner continued her terrific start to the season, pitching the final three innings and giving up only one hit.

Wagner is now 8-0 in nine appearances with a conference-best 0.71 earned-run average.

Next up on the California road trip are No. 3 Arizona State, No. 7 Washington and No. 10 Arizona. The pitching staff will put its 1.39 ERA on the line, and the lineup will try for another one of its big innings — if the weather will let them.