For the second weekend in a row, the story of the No. 13 Michigan softball team’s offensive performance is one marred by inconsistencies.
The Wolverines opened play in the Judi Garman Classic by mustering a lone run across their first two games, both losses. They concluded the weekend by scoring just three times over two games, yet salvaged a split.
Sandwiched in between the bookends, meanwhile, was an eight-run outburst against No. 25 Texas Tech. The 14-hit performance certainly stands as an anomaly from the rest of the weekend slate. Nevertheless, Michigan is confident that such an onslaught will open further offensive floodgates down the road.
“To be able to bounce back against Texas Tech, it meant that we were steering in the right direction,” sophomore outfielder Lexie Blair said. “It’s just about taking those steps each time, generally just going up in the right direction, in a positive way.”
Blair’s performance was perhaps the most encouraging weekend takeaway for the Wolverines. Blair’s batting average rose over 100 points, from .175 to .281, following a nine-hit weekend which included four doubles, perhaps indicating that her early season struggles are a thing of the past. Against Texas Tech, she led the way with four hits, a mark that tied her career high.
During her slump, Blair was moved down the lineup to as low as the eighth spot. This weekend, she was pushed back up into the two spot, providing a dynamic spark at the top of the order along with freshman infielder Julia Jimenez. Since being inserted into the leadoff spot last weekend against South Carolina, Jimenez has been an offensive force, recording five hits on the weekend. She kicked off the Texas Tech game with a bang, slicing a leadoff home run down the left field line.
“It sets the tone for the game, for the hitters that are coming after,” Blair said of Jimenez’s home run. “Us being able to string those hits together and really connect well with the ball and do it back-to-back in that game, it was huge. We really needed that.”
In the immediate aftermath, though, Michigan proved incapable of replicating the stellar offensive numbers it put up against the Red Raiders. Against No. 2 Washington, the Wolverines scored just two runs, while it took them until their last turn at-bat to put one on the board against unranked Colorado State.
Still, the players harped on the positives. Senior infielder Madison Uden’s walk-off home run was a clutch hit the likes of which Michigan has lacked since freshman utility player Lauren Esman’s go-ahead grand slam against Louisville two weeks ago. It also enabled the team to end its weekend on a high note.
“I think that’s really good for just morale in general moving forward,” junior pitcher Meghan Beaubien said of the walk-off victory. “Boosting our confidence of, ‘Yes, we can get this done. Yes, we can come through in clutch situations. This is our team, we can do this.’ That’s something to build on moving forward.”
The Wolverines will have their first chance to build upon their positives from the offensive end Tuesday against St. John’s. For now, they’re staying patient as they await a more significant breakout.
“It’s a journey and that’s expected, many ups and many downs,” Blair said. “But we’re just gonna stick with our plan… . It’ll come back. We’ll click more consistently eventually but we’re just gonna gameplan for the teams ahead in the week and go from there.”
“I think we can kinda see that we can hang with the best in the nation,” Beaubien added. “We can be right there.”