Just two days after the Michigan softball team’s season ended with a regional loss to UCF, two veterans, senior catcher Hannah Carson and senior right-hander Alex Storako — both of whom had an additional year of eligibility — announced that their time in Ann Arbor had come to a close.
On Friday, it became apparent that another key player who was expected to return, freshman right-hander and utility player Annabelle Widra, will be transferring according to Clayton Sayfie and many other transfer tracking websites.
Widra entered Michigan’s class of 2025 as a highly touted prospect hailing from Hoover, Alabama. As a highly decorated high school player, she was named a 2021 MaxPreps first All-American team, 2021 Gatorade player of the year in Alabama, and Mrs Alabama softball. These accolades amounted to her ranking as the eighth overall prospect in her class, and her decision to leave the south and come to Ann Arbor shocked many.
In her one year as a Wolverine, Widra cemented her position in the batting order early on and finished with a .255 average and 11 RBI. But as a dual threat player, Widra’s absence will be felt most acutely in the circle.
Throughout the past season, Widra and fellow freshman right-hander Lauren Derkowski split reps in relief of Storako and graduate left-hander Meghan Beaubien. And towards the end of the season, as Michigan gained momentum in conference play and pushed towards an NCAA Tournament run, it seemed that the Wolverines relied most on Widra in these situations as Michigan coach Carol Hutchins tended to put her in first and leave her in for longer. With Beaubien lacking eligibility and Storako’s transfer, it seemed that Michigan’s de facto 2023 starters would be Widra and Derkowski.
Widra’s exit throws a wrench into that plan.
Michigan does have another pitcher in their bullpen — freshman righty Emerson Aiken — who was another highly touted prospect. But she spent most of the past season in the dugout, only seeing two thirds of an inning of action. The Wolverines will be getting a third pitcher in this prospect class, Maddie Erikson, but like Aiken she doesn’t bring collegiate experience with her.
Where Widra intends to transfer is still up in the air, but presumably she will return to the south.
Regardless of Widra’s plans for the future, her decision puts Hutchins in a bit of a bind as she now has to replace two pitchers and a starting catcher ahead of the 2023 season.
And as she does so, the possibility of others transferring looms, further jeopardizing the Wolverines.