This weekend, it didn’t matter who was on first for Rutgers — Lexie Blair had stolen second anyway.
Highlighting her killer weekend in Saturday’s 7-0 victory against the Scarlet Knights, the freshman outfielder showed her speed in a sprint to second base and then third due to a throwing error. The run moved senior second baseman Faith Canfield to home plate in a play that could have kept Blair on first.
With her steal, Blair created the run that gave Michigan that lead early, and her contributions to the Wolverines’ dominant series didn’t stop at that run. Blair led the Michigan offense all weekend, a common trend for the freshman.
“Scoring those runs early on in the inning really sets the tone and sets great energy for the entire game,” Blair said. “That’s a big deal.”
Blair emerged as an offensive presence early in the season, and that role hasn’t diminished as Michigan returned home for conference play. In fact, Big Ten play against Nebraska last weekend and now Rutgers has only solidified her leadership offensively: Blair leads the team with a batting average of .407 and 44 hits, trailing only Canfield in runs.
To start the weekend, Blair hit both a double and a home run to bring other runners home — the extra-base hits aside from senior first baseman Alex Sobczak’s blast to start the game. In addition to that figure, Blair scored two runs and drove in two runs in Saturday morning’s game and scored eight runs with four RBI on the weekend.
And her performance this weekend wasn’t an anomaly. For the past three weekends since the Wolverines began home play, Blair has anchored the offense with consistent and timely hits in almost every at-bat. That productivity has been vital for Michigan, having started the season 12-10 on the road, a lower win percentage than in previous years.
“When she’s up there, you can always count on her. She doesn’t care what the count is, she puts a good bat on the ball regardless of whether there’s no strikes or two strikes,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “She’s a fearless hitter who’s not afraid to get behind, and she’s been very important to us.”
However, maintaining power hitting hasn’t always been as fluid for Blair, especially considering her inexperience at the collegiate level. While Blair started the season with nerves at the plate, her strong start to the season has calmed those nerves slightly.
“Because it’s a road game, you can get tired and jetlagged, but the coaches stayed on top of us and kept us in our system. We were good to go as if we were playing at home,” Blair said. “I felt great. I felt calm, relaxed and not getting too much in my head. Our intensity and energy level was good the whole weekend.”
Regardless of jitters, Lexie Blair delivered another big weekend at the plate. And that just might be the new normal for the Wolverines.