Huskies bounce Wolverines from NCAA Tournament
For Washington, the third time was the charm.
After failing to score on two previous bases-loaded opportunities, catcher Morganne Flores finally converted such a chance in the sixth inning, slapping a two-run double to give the Huskies a 4-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Michigan softball team fell to No. 6 Washington Sunday night, eliminating the Wolverines from the Seattle Regional and postseason play.
The defeat marks Michigan’s first exit in the Regional round since 2011.
But the Wolverines didn’t lose quietly.
After two consecutive singles to begin the seventh inning, Michigan had the game-tying runs on base as it attempted to stage a late rally. But Huskies pitcher Taran Alvelo — who was dominant for most of the night — recorded a strikeout and induced two consecutive pop-outs to end the Wolverines’ final threat.
In what would be the final start of her illustrious career, senior right-hander Megan Betsa kept Michigan close, fanning nine while allowing just five hits. It was a vast improvement over her start Saturday against Washington, when Betsa was pulled in the first inning.
“I think she had a better approach,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “She knew it was going to be a battle, and she knew she’d have to be better than she was yesterday. I think she owned it.”
But while battling soreness in her fourth appearance of the weekend, Betsa's usual control remained evasive, as she gave away 11 free passes. However, she was able to leave the bases loaded in both the third and fourth frames thanks to clutch pitching that induced poor swings.
“They’re a tough team to pitch to because if you put it over the plate, they put it over the fence,” Hutchins said. “She was just trying to be careful at times. We certainly would’ve liked fewer walks.”
The intensity of game was noticeable throughout. Betsa plunked two Washington players — receiving a noticeable stare-down after the first hit batter — while the Wolverine bench was issued a warning after arguing balls and strikes in the second inning
For the third straight game, Michigan received a first-inning home run — this time from sophomore second baseman Faith Canfield, who launched a solo shot to give the Wolverines a 1-0 advantage.
Betsa, meanwhile, remained unscathed through two frames with strong command and spin on her pitches.
But in the third inning, the Huskies got to Betsa like they had a day before. Washington followed a triple with a two-run homer from infielder Ali Aguilar — her second against Michigan in as many days.
Soon after, junior right fielder Aidan Falk would launch an RBI double to tie the game at two. Falk drove in six of the Wolverines’ 13 runs of the regional.
But even with Falk’s bat, Michigan will return to Ann Arbor having fallen short of advancing into the tournament’s second weekend.
“It’s tough to be done,” Hutchins said. “My team, of course, is heartbroken, but the only thing they’re going to be judged for today is their heart and their effort. They gave it all they had.”