Softball closes season with sweep at Maryland
Playing with a Big Ten regular season championship on the line, the No. 22 Michigan softball team decisively defeated Maryland 6-1 Friday.
Saturday and Sunday were no different.
In an effort to control their own destiny going into the Big Ten Tournament, the Wolverines beat the Terrapins 8-0 on Saturday and 12-3 on Sunday. The wins ended Michigan’s regular season with a 40-11 record and only one loss during conference play.
Continuing Friday’s success, senior second baseman Faith Canfield started the Wolverines’ scoring Saturday by speeding to home plate on a catching error in the third inning.
And the runs just piled up after that.
In the fourth inning, junior Madison Uden hit a home run to right center field, putting Michigan ahead two runs. Later in that same inning, junior catcher Abby Skvarce hit a sacrifice popup that allowed freshman Grace Cheleman, a pinch runner, to come home. Canfield then hit a single to push senior catcher Katie Alexander in for the Wolverines’ fourth run.
After sophomore shortstop Natalia Rodriguez singled with the bases loaded to bring in another run, singles from senior first baseman Alex Sobczak and Uden and a sacrifice fly out from senior designated hitter Mackenzie Nemitz drove home senior outfielder Natalie Peters, freshman outfielder Lexie Blair and freshman infielder Gianna Carosone.
With a shutout from freshman right hander Alex Storako and a defense which played junior outfielder Thais Gonzalez in right field instead of regular starter Haley Hoogenraad, those runs ended the game, 8-0, in six innings.
Following that win, Michigan seniors like Canfield continued to anchor the Wolverines’ offense Sunday. With an RBI double from her and a two-RBI single from Peters, Michigan scored three runs to start the second inning.
After a lull in the following two innings, Cheleman ran in the fourth run of the game on a wild pitch in the fifth inning, and sophomore utility player Lou Allan cracked an RBI single that was misfielded in center field for a double. Peters then hit in a fielder’s choice single to allow Rodriguez to run home.
“I’ll tell you, we just found ways to get it done,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “The pitchers have had our backs, and the hitters have had the pitchers’ backs. Fatigue or not, it’s not going to get easier. ... I think our role players have done an amazing job as well.”
Even with Maryland’s two runs on offensive chances and walks in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Wolverines responded with three runs in the sixth inning and two in the seventh. The offensive push ended the game at 12-3 favoring Michigan, a fitting end to its Big Ten champion regular season.
“We’re doing really well with our attitude and our energy and just being together with our team chemistry, so I think we’re really excited, especially to go into the Big Ten Tournament,” Alexander said. “It’s a long season but you have to take every game seriously. It’s nice to be able to do that.”