Through 48 games of Sierra Kersten’s softball career at Michigan, the sophomore utility player had only had seven extra base hits, all seven of which were doubles.
This weekend, that changed.
Kersten appeared in two of four games at the Duke invitational. And in those two games, Kersten had three hits, two of which were home runs.
Up to this point in the season, Kersten has been in-and-out of the lineup, starting in six of eleven games and generally batting near the end of the order. And for the most part, that’s been justified. Going into this weekend, Kersten had registered only one hit in seven at bats.
But in the two games Kersten appeared in this weekend, she showed explosiveness at the plate that she hasn’t displayed before, so much so that she surprised herself.
“I kind of didn’t believe it when that one went out against Duke, I’ll be completely honest,” Kersten said. “I felt a little bit of a shock, we’ve been grinding all preseason, and just to see the difference in effort come out in that moment.”
Kersten’s newfound pop wasn’t simply a byproduct of a strong weekend from the Wolverines, but rather a major factor in what made the weekend a success. Without Kersten’s home run on Friday, Michigan’s first game against Duke would have gone to extra innings. A loss against the Blue Devils would have meant another middling performance, and another weekend in which the team struggled against ranked competition.
But with Kersten’s decisive third inning home run, the Wolverines’ outlook on the weekend changed.
Kersten’s pair of four-baggers may have surprised herself, but they didn’t come out nowhere.
Michigan’s main focus these past weeks has been on improving its hitting. So far, it has had a fair start to the season, but as in many other years, slow bats in big games have been its downfall. And the team has been vocal about this.
“We’re trying to get (our team) a little more laser focused on driving the ball,” Hutchins said Tuesday. “Right now we’re a little disconnected … a little trying too hard, a little too much thinking. We need to go up there to drive the next hittable pitch.”
Kersten’s performance is the culmination of everything Hutchins had been harping on. She didn’t overburden herself at the plate or attempt to fall back on what she thought would work, she stepped up to the plate and drove the next hittable pitch — twice. And her performance paid dividends.
It’s unclear what exactly the weekend performance will mean for Kersten, it could mark her turning a corner and becoming a more consistent deep ball hitter, or it could just be a one-time thing.
But this weekend was not a coincidence, it was a result of Kersten’s mindset.
“I kind of just got in the mentality of, ‘If you’re gonna go for it, just go for it and swing.’ That was my mindset going into the weekend, use the opportunity in front of you and just make the most of it.”
And she made the most of it.