Lexie Blair confidently stepped up to the plate for a fifth time on Sunday, needing a triple to complete the cycle.
Facing a 3-2 count, the freshman outfielder watched a yellow blur pass her rather than swinging for a chance at that elusive triple. It was a ball, allowing her to keep a 4-for-4 hitting performance intact for a team-high 20th multi-hit outing on the year.
It’s this type of plate discipline and acumen in the batter’s box she’s displayed all season.
With seven games remaining in the regular season, Blair is hitting at a .418 clip, leading the next-best batter on the team by .040. She also leads the team in doubles (17) and RBIs (40) – both numbers better than second baseman Faith Canfield’s entire 2018 All-American campaign. The last time a Michigan freshman was able to put together an All-American caliber season? Sierra Romero in 2013 – she would later become the first four-time All American in program history.
Different years require different All-American standards, and Blair plays a very different position than Canfield and Romero. But what these stat lines do show is that Blair has the potential to be the future of Michigan softball.
After Sierra Romero’s graduation in 2016, Canfield burst into the scene in style as a third team All-American and became someone Blair looked up to before she arrived in Ann Arbor
“Before I even came her, I grew up watching her over her years in Michigan,” Blair said on Mar. 9. “Finally seeing her as a senior, seeing her doing her thing, being consistent as she is, the past couple weekends have been really amazing.”
Now, Canfield is in the home stretch of her tenured career at Michigan. With just a few more games guaranteed, she, along with the other four seniors, will have to pass off a team driven by leadership and experience. The other returning starters for 2020 besides Blair will be junior third baseman Madison Uden, sophomore shortstop Natalia Rodriguez and junior outfielder Haley Hoogenraad. They have done their job to support the top of the batting order, but none of them have produced significant numbers throughout this season like Blair.
Blair doesn’t just get the job done as the third batter in the lineup. She has one of the biggest personalities on the team – her walkup song is “Lose Control” by Missy Elliott. She has a handshake with Uden where she poses for Uden’s hand-camera. This energy and excitement Blair has brought to the Wolverines inspires Canfield just as much as Canfield has inspired her.
“(Blair's) a stud,” Canfield said. “She just has so much confidence. The way she carries herself is just never too high, never too low. She just goes out there and works hard and gets the job done, which is awesome to look at. And even as a freshman, we can really rely on her which is really cool to see someone really take on that role as a leader so young.”
So it doesn’t really matter that Blair was one triple short of a cycle on Sunday, because she has three more years to achieve that. And when she does, the spotlight will shine straight on her, just like it has been on Canfield, Romero and the rest of the Michigan greats.