When Hannah Carson smacked one of the fifth inning’s first pitches over the center field wall, it wasn’t just the start of a pile of runs that led to the No. 19 Michigan softball team’s run-ruling of North Carolina Tuesday night. It was also the culmination of the pile of home runs the Wolverines — especially the senior catcher — had amassed throughout the past five days.
Carson’s solo shot marked her third long ball of the trip, joining her three-run and two-run homers in both wins against Northern Kentucky over the weekend. It also brought her hit count to eight and extended her streak of RBIs to seven straight games.
These statlines lead a plethora of offensive production for Michigan, a new reality after early-season droughts. This leaves Carson as the face of the recent surge, a fitting role considering the way she emulates the comfort the team has sought from the whole batting order.
“(I’m) staying calm at the plate and knowing that if I don’t get it done then someone else will,” Carson said. “Having that mindset has helped me be relaxed and just contribute to the team.”
Such a contribution hadn’t been there until recently. In her six games prior to this trip, Carson only found extra bases once out of three hits, and it was the double in the last game of the stretch that began the RBI streak. In that game, she also tallied her fourth strikeout of the season, and has yet to fall victim to a fifth.
The cool-and-collected team mindset described by Carson is notable because of how much its results contrast a pressure-for-results mindset that so strongly plagued her and the Wolverines just a few weeks ago.
“I think in the beginning, we were trying very hard to just see the results instead of working on our process and having fun with it,” Carson said. “So just staying in the moment and playing one pitch at a time has been the biggest improvement over the past couple days, and in comparison with the beginning of the season.”
Of course, Carson’s position implies that though her leadership at the plate has been crucial, it is a definite minority to the time and effort she contributes behind it.
While she played a central role in the 40 hits her team has racked up in the past three games, on the other side of those innings, Carson has exhibited mirroring leadership while donning the winged catcher’s helmet. The senior maintained a perfect fielding percentage throughout those matchups, and rang up 23 in put-outs.
That leadership in the field found centerstage in Michigan’s most recent win. Fifth-year left-hander Meghan Beaubien threw her fourth shutout of the season despite only striking out one, and this was made possible by reliable fielding execution.
“I could be biased but I think she had a lot of pitches that were right there but just didn’t get the calls, and our defense really picked us up,” Carson said. “I think knowing when your defense can pick you up like that, it provides trust to the pitcher, so they can just be free and throw whatever they want.”
Regardless of the many roles a softball team requires, finding comfort has largely been the journey all of the Wolverines have forged since 2022’s first pitch.
And with the cool processing of hot streaks dictated from veterans like Carson, Michigan can utilize these results as a true north compass towards further success.