After posting 13 runs in a five inning onslaught in the first game of the doubleheader, the No. 18 Michigan softball team (35-6 Big Ten) continued its dominance, pounding Rutgers (8-35) 11-0 in a five inning run rule in the second game of its Saturday doubleheader.
Although the run support meant that the Wolverines didn’t need a dominant performance from senior left-hander Meghan Beaubien, they got one anyways. Beaubien pitched a five inning perfect game gem, dominating the Scarlet Knight’s hitters from start to finish.
“(A perfect game is) a cool thing to have,” Beaubien said. “I know I haven’t had one before, and I give a lot of credit to the defense … that was a really big team effort. I’m proud of my outfielders and I think everyone did a great job.”
Junior outfielder Lexie Blair executed her usual role of sparking the attack, leading off the top of the first inning with a double. Senior shortstop Natalia Rodriguez then drew a walk, and an intentional walk on senior third basemen Taylor Bump loaded the bases.
Junior catcher Hannah Carson — slotted in at designated player for the matchup — then engaged in a lengthy battle at the plate with Scarlet Knights right-hander Ashley Hitchcock. After working towards a full count, Carson smacked the ball into right center field.
Rutgers center fielder Hailey Hoklotubbe chased down the fly ball, but was a half-step late. It landed near the warning track for a double, scoring two runners to put Michigan ahead 2-0, a lead it held comfortably for the remainder of the contest.
The Wolverines’ bats stayed hot in the second inning. After loading first and third base with one out, senior first baseman Lou Allan laced a single down the left field line to score sophomore pinch-runner Audrey LeClair.
Bump then slugged the ball into leftfield for a double, scoring Rodriguez. Carson extended the production, doubling to right center to score two more runs, building a 6-0 lead for the Wolverines.
The demolition continued in the bottom of the third inning. Right-hander Izzy Berouty entered the game for Hitchcock after she hit two batters with pitches. Berouty, however, was unable to turn the tide for the Scarlet Knights.
“We are such a good hitting team,” freshman catcher Keke Tholl said. “We’re very contagious once we get going, (and) there’s no stopping.”
Blair smashed a double to score two more runs, and Carson reached on a fielding error by first baseman Gabrielle Callaway with the bases loaded to score Blair, ballooning Michigan’s lead to 9-0.
The Wolverines added insurance to their lead in the fourth inning. With first and second loaded and two outs, freshman Sierra Kersten entered as a pinch-hitter. She then steamed a single into right field to load the bases, setting up a single up the middle by sophomore utility player Lauren Esman that scored two runs.
Michigan will look to continue taking care of Rutgers in tomorrow’s series finale, before the D-1 Softball Committee makes their NCAA tournament selections.
“We’re just playing ball,” Hutchins said. “We’re just trying to play our best ball right now.”