There were so many runs, the scoreboard wasn’t sufficient.
When sophomore outfielder Haley Hoogenraad hit a grand slam — the last in a series of exclamation points that punctuated the third inning — the number of runs displayed for the frame clicked from seven to one. There was no room for a double-digit inning.
The game started inconspicuously. Junior second baseman Faith Canfield worked a leadoff walk but the rest of the team was unable to follow suit — a familiar refrain for the Michigan softball team. But the 17th-ranked Wolverines (1-1 Big Ten, 25-7 overall) made the contest more and more lopsided before defeating Detroit Mercy (1-2 Horizon League, 6-18 overall), 15-0.
“The biggest thing … was just trying to make adjustments early,” said freshman designated player Lou Allan. “And I think that after the first inning, we all came together and kinda had a game plan.”
Those adjustments showed up in the second when two quick groundouts were followed by three singles, two stolen bases, a walk and an error to score three runs.
In the third, eight Michigan batters came to the plate before a single out was recorded. The Wolverines got on base by any means necessary, from line-drive doubles to infield singles to muffed throws. Every time it seemed the Titans would be able to stop the bleeding, Michigan kept going.
Detroit Mercy didn’t help itself, committing two errors and throwing a wild pitch. The Wolverines didn’t squander those chances, scoring six unearned runs in the inning.
“We had to capitalize on their mistakes,” Allan said. “What we did in previous games is get runners on, and then we wouldn’t capitalize. … It was like, just staying within ourselves and just allowing ourselves to do what we do and play the game.”
And when Hoogenraad deposited a 2-1 pitch into the grass beyond left-center field, it was just the cherry on top.
“We were all up and excited for every little small thing that was great that someone did,” Allan said. “I think that really helped us in the long run to get our 15 runs.”
Meanwhile, freshman left-hander Meghan Beaubien mowed through the Titans’ order. She proved that last Wednesday — when she couldn’t even complete one inning before being pulled — was an aberration, as she struck out nine without allowing a hit.
But no game is over before the fifth inning, and for the Titans, the bottom of the fourth only added insult to injury.
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins opted to rest her starters, instead giving several seldom-used bench players looks. And they, too, found success. Junior infielder Mackenzie Nemitz earned the first hit of her collegiate career with an infield single. She eventually crossed the plate on a bases-loaded single by junior utility player Alex Sobczak.
“This game kinda boosted our energy a little bit,” Allan said, “and made us believe our adjustments are actually working.”
It was a true team effort, with 11 different players getting hits and two others getting on base. Senior first baseman Tera Blanco and senior right fielder Aidan Falk — two of the Wolverines’ heaviest hitters — were pulled before their third at-bat. Beaubien and freshman right-hander Sarah Schaefer combined for 11 strikeouts and no hits.
Maybe the scoreboard — missing digit or not — undersold Michigan’s achievements.
“We’re trying to get them to really just play the game and not play the opponent and to be on task every pitch,” Hutchins said. “And I thought we were a lot better today.”