In the final bout of the four-game series, Michigan didn’t just bring out the brooms, it brought out the rakes.
With three home runs in the game on a total of 12 hits, the 22nd-ranked Wolverines (21-4 Big Ten) crushed the Terrapins (11-17) in an 8-0 run-rule victory. It marked the sixth-straight win for the Michigan softball team and completed its weekend sweep of Maryland.
It began with the Wolverines’ first batter. Junior outfielder Lexie Blair battled the count to reach base on a walk before advancing to second on a wild pitch, then third on a sac bunt by teammate Natalia Rodriguez. A pitch in the dirt skipped off Terrapin catcher Katie Dustin’s pad and trickled behind her. Blair blitzed home, and in a close race, pitcher Courtney Wyche fumbled the ball trying to apply the tag, letting Blair score the first run for the Wolverines.
“I’ve got some aggressive kids,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “(Natalia’s) one of them, Lexie’s one of them. They can run, so that’s what you’d like to have speed your lineup for.”
On the very next pitch, senior first baseman Lou Allan hit a rope to right-center that passed just above the fence and came back into play. Allan slid into second, not realizing she hit a home run. After seeing the umpire’s signal, she got up, laughed it off and finished rounding the bases to give Michigan a 2-0 lead.
The offensive onslaught never let up. In the second, senior third baseman Taylor Bump hit it to left-center for a home run that bounced once and hopped over a wall into Ray Fisher Stadium.
In the third, Allan blasted her second homer, launching it high over the left-field wall for a solo shot to open the inning, her second of the game. Later in the frame, Bump knocked a single into the outfield, scoring sophomore utility player Lauren Esman and fifth-year senior outfielder Haley Hoogenraad from second and first, respectively.
The entire time they were knocking balls around the park like a pinball machine, the team looked as loose and jovial as can be.
“We were kind of just like, alright cool, like yeah let’s just have some fun,” Allan said. “I think that was kind of just the trigger, we all just wanted to go out there and do our best and, you know, play the sport that we all love.”
Sitting at a score of 6-0, Michigan didn’t take its foot off the gas. Blair hit a rope over the Maryland shortstop’s outstretched glove to reach base, which was then followed by a Rodriguez triple to send Blair home. Rodriguez scored on a wild pitch to put Michigan above the run-rule lead threshold of eight runs. The bottom of the fourth ended with freshman Kaylee Rodriguez getting thrown out at home and freshman pinch-hitter Keke Tholl grounding out.
Amid the offensive flurry, the defense proved to be just as stout. Junior right-hander Alex Storako threw four whole innings with nine strikeouts and just two hits. Once Michigan had its sizable lead in the top of the fifth, senior right-hander Sarah Schaeffer replaced Storako, her first innings since March 13. Schaeffer closed out the game, fielding the final out herself, converting the play with a throw that beat the runner at first.
“I thought she did her part and she did what she does,” Hutchins said.
So in the Wolverines’ first series at Alumni Field in nearly two years, they came away with the sweep.