Anatomy of a no-hitter

Sunday, February 11, 2018 - 6:08pm

Michigan coach Carol Hutchins believes big things are in Megan Beaubien's future.

Michigan coach Carol Hutchins believes big things are in Megan Beaubien's future. Buy this photo
File Photo/Daily

In her collegiate debut Friday against Alabama-Birmingham, Meghan Beaubien plunked the first batter she faced.

It seemed at the time an ominous foreshadowing, but maybe it was more of an announcement, a way of saying, “I’m Meghan Beaubien. Don’t mess with me.”

Making the start in the next game, she didn’t allow a single hit.

“I think it’s really cool, and I think it’s really telling of her future at Michigan,” said junior second baseman Faith Canfield. “Just how successful she’s gonna be.”

Even when things didn’t go her way, Beaubien was unfazed. At times, she was even entertained. In the bottom of the second inning, Georgia State batter Arden Jobe fouled off pitch after pitch. Finally, Beaubien went to her changeup — a 55 mph offering that kept hitters off-balance all day — and Jobe swung straight through it.

“I actually have fun with those situations,” Beaubien said. “It’s always fun to have a battle like that between a pitcher and a hitter.”

But after that, the Panthers didn’t seem to have much fight left, as seven of the next eight batters struck out.

Meanwhile, Michigan, which had opened up a 2-0 lead in the first inning, tacked on RBI singles from junior catcher Katie Alexander and sophomore outfielder Thais Gonzalez in the fourth to make the score 5-0.

After that, Beaubien showed her first signs of being anything but in control, as two fly balls seemed destined for trouble before diving catches by Gonzalez and senior right fielder Aidan Falk kept the no-hitter alive.

“People made fantastic plays that game,” Beaubien said, “and that shows that that no-hitter is really a team effort.”

In the top of the sixth inning, junior second baseman Faith Canfield stepped up to the plate with two runners on. She worked the count to 3-2, waiting for her pitch.

When she got it, it left the ballpark to extend the lead to 8-0.

The Wolverines knew that if they didn’t allow a run in the bottom of the inning, the game would end due to the run rule.

Three more outs would seal it.

Three.

Strike three whizzed right by a flustered Georgia State batter.

Two.

A routine groundout to shortstop.

One.

Beaubien walked the next batter on four straight pitches. The crowd was restless. Was she feeling fatigued? Could she finish it off?

Then came a soft line drive off the bat of Panther designated player Megan Litumbe. Beaubien turned around, tracking it until it landed safely into the glove of sophomore shortstop Madison Uden.

Zero.

Her reaction was subdued — a simple fist pump as the Wolverines rushed the field. After all, her pitching spoke for itself.

As hard as it is to top a no-hitter, for Beaubien, this is just the beginning.

“I expect that she’ll have a lot of great things in her career,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “ … We’ll take the no-hitters in stride, and I think she handled it like a champ.”

And though Michigan may not have had quite the weekend it wanted — dropping both its games on Saturday — it knew one thing: Mess with Meghan Beaubien at your own risk.