What used to be Michigan’s kryptonite turned into its friend on Sunday.
Senior outfielder Natalie Peters stepped up to bat with two outs and the bases loaded during the bottom of the second inning. But rather than leaving runners stranded on base like the Wolverines often do, Peters pounded a bases-clearing double to left field and drove in the first three runs that kickstarted Michigan’s 12-0 onslaught of Nebraska.
After a four-run second inning, the Wolverines showcased their power in the third.
Senior designated hitter Mackenzie Nemitz led off the inning with a solo home run as Michigan celebrated “Kenzie Nemitz Day” at Alumni Field.
“I was rounding third and I was like, ‘Please don’t wake up,’ because I thought it was a dream,” Nemitz said about the home run. “As I was rounding third and running into my team, I was like ‘This is real.’ ”
Right after her was junior third baseman Madison Uden who drove another home run to center field, her first of the year after going without a hit in Saturday’s game.
But the Wolverines didn’t stop there. Senior outfielder Haley Hoogenraad made it three consecutive solo home runs for Michigan when she drove her first of the season as well down the left field line, putting the Wolverines up 7-0 after three innings.
“In each of the games (this series), it took us a while to get our timing,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “When we found our process, especially today, I felt that we had a lot of better at-bats and we connected.
“I say it every time. Hitting is contagious and if you get a few, then people feel looser and more confident… Our kids were definitely loose and having fun today.”
Michigan continued to step on the gas pedal during the bottom of the fourth inning, determined to finish the game on the five-inning mercy rule.
Loading the bases with runners throughout the inning, Michigan found stability from the middle of its lineup as Nemitz, Uden, and Hoogenraad each had at least one run batted-in, extending the lead up to 11.
Hutchins then decided to unleash the rest of her weapons, giving playing time to many of the bench players including junior catcher Abby Skvarce who added another RBI to her campaign.
In the meantime, sophomore left-hander Meghan Beaubien continued her dominance of the Cornhuskers, pitching a perfect game going into the final inning. However, with two outs remaining, Beaubien gave up a double to Lindsey Walljasper, the other starting pitcher today. Beaubien still finished with seven strikeouts and no walks, completing the sweep of the Cornhuskers.
“I mean, (Beaubien) keeps us in the game,” Nemitz said. “We just have to produce for her so that’s what we did, and she owned it out there.”
Added Beaubien: “It was just a lot of fun. I think our dugout was having a lot of fun and we were hitting the ball really well and that kind of energy is contagious.”
With a seven-game winning streak and a perfect start to the young Big Ten season, the Wolverines seem to have found some momentum and quite possibly its identity, both offensively and defensively.