Coming off a disappointing opening weekend, the Michigan softball team enters a gauntlet, playing four top 25 teams in two days of play.
Now the Wolverine are trying to flip the script. The buzzwords among the team during this week of practice — aggression and urgency.
“Today we focused on aggressive swings,” graduate outfielder Kristina Burkhardt said. “(Last weekend) we swung at good pitches, (but) we weren’t able to get a lot of bat on the ball, so (we are) coming into this weekend having more confidence in the prep we had, and coming in knowing we are good hitters and are ready to attack the pitchers we face.”
In its first weekend of play, Michigan easily took care of the mid-major teams in their path, but was unable to break through against their toughest two opponents in Florida and South Florida. The Wolverines only totalled six hits during their two Saturday games, a worrying sign that the hitting will stay timid against the better opponents of this weekend.
“I think that some of the at bats were more timid than we wanted,” freshman outfielder Ellie Sieler said. “… As this past weekend ended coming into practice today, (we worked on) having more aggressive and confident swings.”
Now that Michigan has a weekend of games under its belts, there is a concrete roadmap for improvement. And that growth will need to come at the plate. The Wolverines could not break into the hits column against then-No. 6 Florida until the last inning of play. This anemic offense is not sufficient to beat softball’s best, and it will not be sufficient this weekend either.
“Things are urgent, things have been urgent all year,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “Every day, people ask, is it urgent now? When you walk into practice, it’s urgent. We need to get better today, we need to master the craft. But we can’t panic, because we can only take the data we have, what we have learned as coaches and adjust? We need to go day to day.”
Michigan understands that two losses in a 50 game season are but a blip on the radar, but offensive struggles could become the story of the season if adjustments are not made. But even so, the Wolverines remain confident, and looks to be more aggressive at the plate. Michigan has an opportunity this weekend to build momentum and significantly improve their RPI.
But they urgently need a spark.