Even in a three-game sweep of a struggling opponent like Penn State, it took a considerable amount of toughness on the part of the No. 17 Michigan softball team to make sure that everything went to plan.
Locked in a scoreless tie at the top of the seventh inning of the second game of the series, freshman outfielder Lou Allan knew it was time to stop catching up and start making something happen. Up to that point, the Wolverines (31-7) had been shutout by a Nittany Lions team (6-27) they beat 14-2 the day before.
After being one of the highest recruits in the country last year, Allan has spent much of the year injured, and has slowly improved since. But against Penn State, she hit her first career home run in the opening game.
Instead of celebrating though, Allan and the rest of the team faced the prospect of a momentum-halting, disappointing loss the next day. Just like the loss earlier this season against Iowa, when the Wolverines' rally in the seventh inning was too little too-late, the Nittany Lions seemed almost insurmountable at the plate.
Allan, though, made sure history didn’t repeat itself. She swung through a changeup and crushed a two-run homer, piercing right through the hearts of the Penn State players, eliminating much of their hope for an upset.
“I was just trying to do whatever I could in order to score the runs, and then we were all fighting so hard to get some runs on the board in that game,” Allan said. “It was a little bit of a struggle, but I think the biggest thing was, we just needed to make adjustments.”
Although the other two games in the series were both run-rule blowouts, it would be a mistake to assume that the Wolverines didn’t bring the same level of toughness to them.
“It doesn’t feel any different, it’s still, we’re still just playing the game, but honestly, we go out and our mentality is that we wanna get in, play five innings, and then get out,” Allan said. “And score as many runs as possible, because we know we’re able to do that and we’re good enough to go up there and just stay on a hitting streak and score the runs that we need to.”
Freshman left-hander Meghan Beaubien reeled off three consecutive wins, including a combined three-hitter with senior right-hander Tera Blanco. Beaubien currently boasts the most wins of any pitcher in the country, and the duo anchored a Wolverine defense that allowed just three runs all weekend.
“The defense starts on the mound,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “The pitcher has to be having good game management, and although (Blanco) did get into a few full count situations, although a few more than I probably would like. She really, she was just on her game as far as being mentally tough and her defense supported her.
"We made all the plays we needed to make.”