With two outs on the board in the last inning of No. 23 Michigan softball team’s (24-10) game against Indiana (28-10), sophomore left-hander Meghan Beaubien threw two pitches straight into the center of the batters box. The third ended up in the dirt, but that didn’t matter in the end as the Indiana batter had already started her swing, delivering the Wolverines a 4-1 victory.
With that, Beaubien ended the game the same way it had begun: with a strikeout.
Beaubien’s strong performance kept the mood light early in the game. Between the top and bottom of the first inning, the players took the time in their huddle to dance to OutKast’s “The Way You Move.”
The tone began to shift when the Wolverines stepped up to bat. While they did load the bases, they failed to follow through, ending the inning scoreless with three runners stranded on base.
Michigan continued to struggle though the next inning. With two outs against just as many batters, it looked like Beaubien would pitch another 1-2-3 inning, but on the next pitch, the batter shot the ball out to right field. A miscue by junior outfielder Haley Hoogenraad allowed the runner to reach third. The runner made it to home plate when the next batter ricocheted a ball off of senior second baseman Faith Canfield’s glove, giving the Hoosiers a one run lead early in the game. The pitcher doesn’t blame any of her teammates for the lost run.
“Anytime the ball is hit into the outfield, I gave up that ball,” Beaubien said. “That’s on me. The ball in the infield — that ball was a shot — that’s on me. Everybody contributes; everybody has responsibility but in that case, that is my responsibility.”
Freshman outfielder Lexie Blair lit a spark for the Wolverines’ offense with a home run in the bottom of the third — her fourth of the season. Although this stat is the second highest on the team, each home run still gives her a thrill.
“Ever time I hit a home run I get excited,” Blair said. “Especially when we were down in that inning by one, we definitely got more of a rally going. Any moment like that I’m always excited — especially seeing the team at home is a great feeling.”
With a runner already on base on base, the blast — sent over the left field wall — gave Michigan a 2-1 lead. Once the ball was rolling, the Wolverines’ bats got hot.
Hoogenraad started off the next inning with a line drive to center field. An error by the Hoosiers on the next at-bat allowed her to advance to third. Senior outfielder Natalie Peters repeated Hoogenraad’s performance, filing a ball straight to center field and allowing both runners to reach home. Peters had strong at-bats all day, hitting three for three and accounting for one of Michigan’s four runs. The Wolverines’ offense was finally coming together for the first time of the day.
Unfortunately for Michigan, the same could be said of Indiana.
A couple of singles and a line drive put runners on second and third for the Hoosiers but consistent pitching by Beaubien let the Wolverines escape unscathed, maintaining their three run lead.
Michigan was prepared for the challenge, not sacrificing another run despite several strong swings by the Hoosiers. Strong defensive plays came from every almost position including a double play by junior third baseman Madison Uden and senior first baseman Alex Sobczak in the top of the sixth inning. That inning was ended by senior catcher Katie Alexander who caught a runner attempting to steal second.
While Hutchins is happy with the defensive performance, she hopes the offense will be able to increase the margin in the two remaining games of the series.
“They hit the ball hard a few times,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “It’s a great matchup. It’s two good teams. We held them to one run and that’s good because we weren’t really producing very well. Our production with runners on base will hopefully be better tomorrow.”