Who is softball's number one pitcher?

Ariel Bond/Daily
Senior Nikki Nemitz (#44) plays against Wisconsin on Sunday, April 4, 2010. The Wolverines won 8-0. Buy this photo

BY LUKE PASCH
Daily Sports Writer
Published April 14, 2010

The question has been posed before: who is the number-one starter for the No. 2 Michigan softball team?

But sometimes people get curious.

With each complete game shutout that junior Jordan Taylor and senior Nikki Nemitz throw, the question becomes more difficult to answer.

They’re both All-Americans. They both have an ERA below two. Taylor has 16 wins in 21 appearances, and Nemitz has 13 in 17.

But in the beginning of the season, the answer wasn’t nearly as ambiguous. Taylor was the hot hand. And it appeared that she had assumed the number-one spot over the elder Nemitz.

As Nemitz stumbled to a 1-3 record to open the season, Taylor surged ahead and won in her first five starts before taking a loss in a 2-1 pitchers' duel to then-No. 6 Missouri.

Taylor consistently got the nod for three games in the five-game weekend road trips. She stifled some of the strongest top-to-bottom lineups in the nation. And her only two losses have come against top-15 opponents.

Even with those conspicuous indicators, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins wouldn’t answer the question.

“I have two All-American pitchers,” Hutchins said.

But everybody could see it. The early-season box scores revealed the number-one and number-two pitchers.

Now, it’s not so easy.

Since Big Ten play opened three weeks ago, both pitchers have been tossing the ball phenomenally.

Nemitz has won all three of her starts, giving up just one run. Taylor has won all four of hers, and she also upped the ante by throwing her first career perfect game at Minnesota last weekend.

As Nemitz’s resurgence becomes reality, and as the Wolverines inch closer to postseason play, the question pops back into relevance.

Who will be number one on May 21, the first day of the NCAA regionals?

Who knows? Only one thing remains certain — you’re not going to find out from Hutchins.

Injury Report: Sophomore shortstop Stephanie Kirkpatrick has been inactive for the last six games with a torn meniscus in her left knee.

Hutchins revealed today that she will likely be out for at least the next two weeks, but she is expected to be ready for postseason action. She is scheduled for a minor surgical procedure today.

“She was going to try to play through it, but she’s just not mobile enough,” Hutchins said. “The good thing is we know she’ll work really hard.”

With her absence from the field, the defense has been moved around quite a bit, as senior Molly Bausher — an everyday centerfielder — has temporarily filled in at shortstop. Sophomore Bree Evans moved from left to center, and senior Kristen Larsen came off the bench to occupy left.