It was the top of the seventh inning, and the No. 2 Michigan softball team was clinging to a 3-2 lead against No. 13 Florida State.
Senior All-American second baseman Sierra Romero stepped up to the plate with senior outfielder Sierra Lawrence at first base.
Up until that point, Romero had been 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in an uncharacteristic performance at the plate for the star infielder.
But with one swing, she righted the ship.
Romero crushed a home run to right field, and the Wolverines could breathe easier.
When asked about what she was trying to do heading into that fateful at-bat, Romero was blunt.
“Swing the bat,” Romero said.
For Romero, hitting has always been a strength of her game, and she didn’t let her minor cold spell interfere with her mentality.
“I just had to not get down on myself,” Romero said. “I knew it was coming. (It was) just a matter of time.”
That simple approach is symbolic of the team’s uniform batting approach.
While individual players may have slight variations in their approach, every player is taught to follow one mantra religiously — “one-pitch focus.”
“The one-pitch mentality is just focusing on one pitch at a time,” Romero said. “(You aren’t) worrying about what you think they’re going to throw to you or what they threw to you in the past, and (you’re) just going up there with a clear mind and trying to hit.”
It’s a focus that Michigan has stuck to for years, and that focus has led the Wolverines to develop a potent offense that averages 1.44 home runs per game, reaches base at a .450 clip and has a .349 batting average.
But the scariest thing for opponents is that Michigan coach Carol Hutchins doesn’t believe her team is hitting to its full potential yet.
“I think we’re still learning that (one-pitch focus) as a team,” Hutchins said. “My upperclassmen understand it better, but (the team) hasn’t been able to execute it as they’re capable of.
“Kids have to learn how to do it because their minds are much faster and they’ll play out a whole inning and all the scenarios, (and) therefore they’re not focused on the ball. We’ve just got to focus on the pitch now because it’s the only one that matters.”
Freshman infielder Faith Canfield said that in addition to trying to adhere to the “one-pitch focus,” she and her teammates have put in the requisite work on the field.
“Whoever wants to can come in and hit in our hitting cage before practice,” Canfield said. “In the past during fall, we’ve come in on the weekends — which we have off — and hit and do some tee work.”
The Wolverines have been successful so far, with the only blemish on their record an 8-0 loss to No. 1 Florida.
But they can continue to improve on their batting by making sure they follow Hutchins’ teachings — that the “one-pitch focus” is tantamount to their success.
“It’s the mentality that will get them what they want,” Hutchins said. “Regardless of whether we’re ahead or behind, we have to get in our moment and play now. I think it helps us play better softball.”