Michigan’s offense continued its woes, but in sunny Los Angeles, St. John’s’ defensive struggles allowed the Wolverines to secure the win.
The No. 16 Michigan softball team (13-6) made a stop for the sixth game of its tour of the California coast, an individual contest against the Red Storm (7-14) wedged between two weekend series. The Wolverines won the matchup 4-2 on Tuesday night despite their offensive inconsistency.
Michigan scored two right out of the gates, but their first-inning runs were a product of St. John’s’ poor defensive play.
Before the first run, sophomore left fielder Lexie Blair reached base on a throwing error. Blair then stole second, putting her in scoring position. Senior designated player Abby Skvarce reached base on a fielding error by Red Storm first baseman Kaitlyn Lologo, allowing Blair to cross home plate for the first run of the day.
The Wolverines mustered up two singles, scoring Skvarce for the second unearned run of the contest.
“We just want to be aggressive on the bases and find opportunities to score,” freshman shortstop Julia Jimenez said. “We just capitalized on all of their errors.”
While the Wolverines did capitalize on the errors, they did not capitalize on all of their hits. At the end of the inning, they went back to the dugout with three runners stranded.
In the second, Michigan scored two again. The runs, this time, came off the bat of junior first baseman Lou Allan. But yet again, the Wolverines failed to get a hit, leaving the bases loaded.
“Just getting good pitches to hit is one of the main focuses we need to have,” Jimenez said. “I think we're getting better at it as we go on with our games, but I think we just lost a little bit of that.”
After scoring two runs in each of the first two innings, Michigan went silent — netting zero runs and just two hits in the following four innings. In the same span, the Wolverines left four runners on base, contributing to a staggering total of 10 runners left on base in the game, seven of which were in scoring position.
Allan also believes the team’s problems stem from its mindset:
“I think a lot of the time we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as players and we feel like we have to get it done. … That’s all that we can focus on at that point.”
Despite its offensive maladies, Michigan was able to squeeze out a win. The two runs surrendered as a result of St. John’s’ defensive lapses were just enough to put the Wolverines over the top, but victory could not have come without a solid defensive performance.
Sophomore right-hander Alex Storako threw a complete game with 15 strikeouts and zero walks. Storako held the Red Storm to two runs on five hits, which proved to be enough to lead her team to a win.
Michigan’s defense was staunch behind her, lending 21 putouts and zero errors — a stark contrast to St. John’s’ three.
“I think our defensive performance went really well tonight,” Jimenez said. “Storako did an amazing job on the mound and she's our rock out there.”
The Wolverines’ strong collective performance in the field allowed them to capitalize on their opponents' mistakes.
Staring down games against No. 1 UCLA and No. 22 UCF in the coming days, Michigan will need to rely on more than just defense and pitching to prevail.
But on Tuesday, it was just enough to add one more to the Wolverines’ win column.