Michigan heads to Texas looking for better run support

Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 10:09pm

Sophomore second-baseman Faith Canfield was the only player to hit over .300 for Michigan last weekend.

Sophomore second-baseman Faith Canfield was the only player to hit over .300 for Michigan last weekend. Buy this photo
Alexis Rankin/Daily

1.3 runs per game.

That’s what the Michigan softball team has given up against some of the top teams in the country in its first nine games an encouraging sign.

So is the fact that even though the Wolverines lost Megan Betsa last year’s ace  to graduation, they haven’t lost a step with freshman left-hander Meghan Beaubien. She has a 0.83 ERA and a no hitter under her belt. If that success continues, Michigan will have a chance to win against any team it faces.

Having a chance to win is different than actually winning, though. While fielding and pitching has been largely consistent for the Wolverines, scoring simply hasn’t, and it shows in their 5-4 record. At the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, the team hit .160. Junior second baseman Faith Canfield was the only player to hit above .300.

“A pitcher’s job is to hold up their offense, and they don’t have any control over whether we have offense going nor not,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “They can’t let it get to them. They can’t start pitching not to give up a run and focus on things they can’t control, and that will not go well.”

Michigan, though, has a chance to right its hitting woes over Spring Break, and that starts with the four-game Texas Invitational. Here’s a look at each of its opponents this weekend:

Texas (4-5):

Though the hosts of the tournament have a losing record, the Longhorns won’t necessarily be a cakewalk for the Wolverines. Texas limited No. 1 Washington who came in averaging 11.1 runs per game  — to two runs on Wednesday.

Texas has scored 17 of its 24 runs this season as a result of its leadoff hitter getting on base to start an inning.

One player in particular to watch out for is second baseman Janae Jefferson. The freshman opened her career with an eight-game hitting streak, which is an Longhorn record for a rookie. Jefferson is hitting .480 with seven runs batted in and has reached base in every game this season.  

Virginia Tech (6-2):

Whereas the Wolverines had an uneven Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Hokies swept their opponents. They head into the weekend on a six-game win streak.

Virginia Tech notched shutouts in three of its four wins, in no small part because of Carrie Eberle. The right-hander gave up just four hits over 14 innings and was named ACC Player of the Week. In particular, Eberle was impressive against Purdue, recording eight strikeouts and only allowing one base hit, becoming the first Virginia Tech pitcher in two years to throw back-to-back complete game shutouts. Michigan will play the Hokies twice, and the matchup presents a good measuring stick for Beaubien.

Wichita State (5-4):

Similar to Virginia Tech, the Shockers head into Austin hot. Wichita State has won three games in a row and provides a challenge for the Wolverines’ pitching staff with first baseman Ryleigh Buck.

The sophomore is hitting .467 over her last five games and led the Shockers in hits, runs and slugging percentage. For the season, Buck leads the Shockers in batting average (.348) and on-base percentage. Michigan and Wichita State have not played since 1991.