Michigan softball’s lineup felt a lot like a jigsaw puzzle this weekend. 

Senior infielder Madison Uden started at third for three of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge’s four games. Junior infielder Taylor Bump took third for the remaining game and started two others at first. When Bump wasn’t at first, the spot was occupied by junior infielder Lou Allan. When Allan wasn’t at first, she rounded out the lineup as the designated player. Sophomore Morgan Overaitis slid into the DP spot for two games when she wasn’t in the outfield. 

The roster is filled with names of players ready to battle it out for one of the nine spots in the lineup. At the beginning of the season, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said she was waiting to see who would take advantage of their opportunities — who would prove they deserved a spot. It’s still early. There’s still plenty of time for players to show what they’re made of. The constant lineup switches can be read to mean she’s still waiting for that moment. Or they could be read as a measure of the team’s depth. 

“I think that what I like about our team is that we have a number of versatile players,” Hutchins said. “We’ve got some versatility in our lineup. 

“And we’re going to need to coordinate a lot of different people. As you see, we worked Maddy (Uden) and Bump, and Lou (Allan), and Morgan (Overaitis) and Thais (Gonzalez). And they’re all helping us win, so I like the versatility.”

Uden would be the most expected choice to start at third base. As one of the team’s captains, she commanded the position last season, starting in 52 games. But it doesn’t seem she has the position locked down as of now. She’s only been in the starting lineup six of the nine games so far. 

“I don’t think (Uden has) hit her stride yet,” Hutchins said. “She hasn’t been real consistent. She’s definitely had more strikeouts than I think she would like. More than we would like. She’s a tough kid, and she’s working at it.”

Uden, who was 5-for-17 this weekend, is batting .235 on the season so far. But she’s come back from rough patches before. Last season, she faced a five-game stretch in which she couldn’t get her average above .200. But she recovered — by the end of the season, her average hovered in the high .200s — and it may have come down to her outlook.  

“You know, Maddy has a really good head on her shoulders and I have never really have seen her get too low,” sophomore outfielder Lexie Blair said. “She could be feeling that way, but on the outside, that’s just her being a good teammate. She shows that all the time — 100 percent of the time — which I think is important. That can just push you out of that mindset. 

“You’re in a slump; you’re on an all-time low; just trying to have that positivity and trying to force it on yourself and others — I think that’s what really propelled her throughout (last) season.”

While Uden is one of the more tested of the Wolverines’ options at third, Bump has proved the power of her bat. After only 10 starts last season, Bump has already racked up five runs — two of them homers.

In the fight to start at first, Allan has also shown the impact she can make at the plate. This weekend, she had four hits in 12 at-bats.

When Allan was in the DP spot, Overaitis was moved to the outfield. She registered two hits this weekend, one of which translated into a run in Michigan’s 4-0 shutout of North Carolina. It’s unclear when or if the Wolverines’ lineup will be consistent game to game. 

But regardless of how the pieces end up fitting together, the picture is pretty clear: With a 9-0 record, Michigan has a lot to work with.  

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