Michigan softball lights a spark

Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 9:01pm

Senior Faith Canfield holds the highest batting average on the team.

Senior Faith Canfield holds the highest batting average on the team. Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

When Faith Canfield stepped up to the plate — the first Michigan at-bat in the team's first home game of the season — all the senior second baseman needed was three pitches. 

The first was was a ball, flying high enough above the strike zone that the catcher couldn’t grab it.  

The second was a strike, but Canfield was patient, waiting to swing on the right ball.

Then, the right ball came and Canfield swung. 

That ball went sailing over the fence at left field, giving Michigan softball (13-10) its first home run in Ann Arbor of the season. From there, the offense couldn’t be stopped. 

“Hitting is a contagious thing,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “First, one catches it, then another catches it.”

Kent State dropped the ball several times during the game — both metaphorically and literally — and the Wolverines weren't hesitant to capitalize on any opportunity. After being walked, freshman infielder Lexie Blair would eventually go on to score on a wild pitch. And that was just the first inning. 

The Wolverines kept the momentum going in the second inning, showing a combination of power and base hitting that the team has been looking for all season. 

With two runners on base, senior utility player Alex Sobczak followed Canfield’s lead with another home run. Accompanied by a run from senior catcher Katie Alexander, Michigan had a six-run lead in the bottom of the second inning. 

The game ended in the fifth inning with the team's first run-rule win of the season after a hit from junior catcher Abby Skvarce.  

While the Wolverines’ success at the plate looked nearly effortless, this level of offensive success is unprecedented in the young season — Michigan has struggled to ignite a spark, currently possessing the second lowest batting average in the Big Ten.

The team has been buoyed by standouts like Blair and Canfield as the sparks of the offense. Canfield’s performance stayed strong even after her home run. With a perfect on-base percentage, she was responsible for three of the Wolverines’ eight total runs. 

Though Canfield currently holds the highest batting average on the team, others rose to the occasion as well. Alexander currently possesses a meager .149 batting average, and in her first at-bat, she showed perseverance in a 12-pitch at-bat that eventually led to a walk.  

After a disappointing loss to South Dakota last weekend, Michigan was hungry for a win. The question that remains is whether they’ll stay hungry. 

“You wake up tomorrow and the tiger’s hungry,” Hutchins said. “You’ve got to hunt your prey to eat.”