After 33 seasons at the helm, Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins knows how to get the most out of her players.
“‘Can you attack this batter?’” said freshmen left-hander Meghan Beabuen, doing her best impersonation of Hutchins. “‘Can you do it?’”
Hutchins strutted up to the circle in the top of the fifth-inning, demanding an answer from her freshman pitcher. Beaubien had just hit the first batter of the inning and fell in the count, 2-0, to the next hitter.
“She poses it as a challenge,” Beaubien said. “And I like challenges.”
The Michigan softball team came into last season ranked No. 6 in the country, and for just the second time since 2004, it failed to advance past regionals of the NCAA Tournament.
Now, riding a 16-game win streak –– longer than any win streak they had last season –– the seventeenth-ranked Wolverines are the hottest team in the Big Ten, and are playing like a team left with a sour taste in its mouth.
Through the first 12 games of the season, Michigan had a record of 6-6. Perhaps the team needed a period of adjustment after losing a slew of four-year starters.