The last time fifth-year left-hander Meghan Beaubien entered the circle, the No. 19 Michigan softball team’s defense didn’t perform behind her. Despite Beaubien carrying a no-hitter through six innings against Kent State, errors kept the opposition in the game, and nearly cost the Wolverines the victory.
Against Toledo on Tuesday, Michigan’s defense bounced back. Beaubien delivered another efficient performance, and this time, the defense backed her up in an 8-0 win. Anchored by senior catcher Hannah Carson, the Wolverines made every routine play and then some, avoiding errors to limit the Rockets’ opportunities. Meanwhile, Michigan capitalized on opposing errors at the plate to extend its innings and score extra runs.
“I mean, it’s great, right? You need to trust your defense,” Beaubien said. “Every game I go out there, and I just trust that they’re gonna make their play. They don’t always. … But I have to trust that they’re going to.”
Every time that Beaubien faltered in any way, the defense was there to pick her back up. With one out in the third inning, she gave up her first hit of the game, a ground ball single that slipped through the right side of the infield. But just two at-bats later, Carson threw a laser to freshman shortstop Ella McVey to catch Toledo shortstop Lily Beyer stealing to end the inning.
“Hannah’s such a talented player on both sides of the ball,” Michigan associate head coach Bonnie Tholl said. “She has an electric arm. We’re seeing that it’s on target. She’s working well with our middle infield.”
Beyond making plays of her own, Carson anchored Beaubien’s effective outing in the circle. The pair worked together to keep Beaubien throwing the right pitches, and it showed. Beaubien’s change-up was on full display throughout the game, striking out Rocket after Rocket by pulling the string.
Carson was just as good at the plate, batting 3-for-3 on the day with a double and three RBIs as well as two runs of her own.
And during her successful day at the plate, she capitalized on the defensive miscues of her opposition.
In the first inning, with runners on second and third, Carson drove a two-run single into left-center field. Carson’s hit directly followed a Toledo error, where after catching a comebacker, pitcher Sophia Knight gunned the ball to first base attempting to double off the runner. But the first baseman muffed the throw, the runners advanced, and Carson brought them in on the next at-bat.
“We just get energy from it,” Carson said. “If a team makes an error, and that’s the way we get on base, then we get on base. We treat it the same way as a hit or a walk, and we just keep the energy going.”
In the third inning, freshman utility player and pitcher Annabelle Widra reached second base on a steal — after getting on base via a bunt single. Neither were routine plays, but had the Rockets fielded better, both were plays that could have been made. Once again Carson capitalized, driving Widra in with an RBI double.
Play after play, Carson locked down the Wolverines’ defense, and took advantage when the opposing defense struggled. For a team that nearly blew its last game due to its own issues in the field, her performance led an encouraging return to better form.
And whether it was holding down Michigan’s defense or blowing up Toledo’s, Carson’s performance constantly gave the Wolverines the advantage.