Players surround the plate, smiling and chanting as they eye their teammate rounding third base. Moments prior, Faith Canfield slammed the first hit of the home season over the fence past left field.
"You round the bases and you just see them all waiting for you, going crazy," Canfield said after the game. "It's awesome. It's almost indescribable."
Following the senior second baseman’s lead, the No. 25 Michigan softball team trounced Kent State, 8-0, in a five-inning contest ended by run rule. After offensive struggles on the road earlier this season, the Wolverines delivered several big plays while still maintaining a tight defensive front.
Starting late due to a 90-minute weather delay, Michigan left the dugout ready to play, with Canfield’s homer propelling the team offensively. In the same inning, a wild pitch thrown to freshman designated hitter Hannah Carson pushed freshman outfielder Lexie Blair home to raise the score to 2-0 early.
And the Wolverines followed that success in the second inning. With two runners on base after hits by Canfield and senior outfielder Natalie Peters, senior first baseman Alex Sobzcak hit a three-run home run into the stands in center field, heightening the score further to 6-0 after the second inning.
Sobzcak’s hit, along with multiple key grabs on defense, puts her in a good position to compete for the permanent first base job.
"Her on-base percentage has been .500, with or without hits," said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. "And so when she did hit that ball over the fence and that was her only swing of the day at bat, I said when she came around third, 'It's about time you swung.'"
Along with a stimulated performance at the plate, Michigan’s defense also delivered, with sophomore left-hander Meghan Beaubien pitching five shutout innings.
Even with that strength, the game certainly wasn't low scoring. Late in the fourth inning to increase the score even more, Canfield sprinted home from second base after a Blair infield single. The run was Canfield’s third on the day. Canfield's performance, as well as that of many of her teammates, showed strength at the plate for the Wolverines, with multiple players making contact and driving balls to get on base.
"We were better at (hitting) today than we were yesterday, which is a good time to be better," Hutchins said. "Faith is setting a great tone."
In the final moment of the game, junior catcher Abby Skvarce continued the success and hit a single to left field, bringing junior infielder Madison Uden, who started the game on the bench, home. Uden’s run bumped the final score to 8-0, the threshold for the run rule after five innings.
"The season's a grind, and you have to grind out your at-bats and get confidence from when you've worked hard and know that you've accomplished something," Hutchins said. "You've just got to come back and grind tomorrow."