Facing the Big Ten’s best offense this weekend, the Michigan softball team showed it could win ugly.
On Friday, the Wolverines jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning but found itself tied heading into the seventh. Rather than being fazed by the surging crowd on the road, Michigan was able to string together a couple of hits and drive in the deciding run.
Saturday’s scene was quite the opposite.
Michigan was scrambling for any sort of momentum, both at the plate and in the field, as it faced an 8-5 deficit after six innings.
“I don’t exactly know what the biggest struggle was,” said senior second baseman Faith Canfield. “You just have those days where things don’t click, when things aren’t gonna go perfect. … Those days are gonna happen but take it for what they are, just work to get better at them.”
The Wolverines were in a similar position just two weeks ago. Trailing Indiana by two runs heading into the final inning, the seniors led a comeback that was catalyzed by an offensive showing Hutchins has been seeking from the team all season.
On Saturday, Michigan showed that the scoring it had discovered against Indiana hadn’t disappeared after one showing. One seventh inning later, the scoreboard flashed 9-8 in favor of the Wolverines – another narrow one-run win on the weekend.
“There’s nothing sweeter than coming from behind to win a game,” Hutchins said. “Those are great moments that hopefully give us a continued confidence and belief in ourselves when we get behind. We’ve played well from behind. I’m really pleased with that.”
Putting on such offensive clinics during the crunch time of conference games is more than just correct mechanics, though. This team has something far more important than hot bats and well-timed swings. It has grit.
The same team that struggled to secure close games and mount comebacks against the likes of South Dakota and North Carolina has won 21 of its last 22 games. And though the Wolverines may not be ranked as highly as other Michigan teams of this past decade, this team is showing just as much heart, if not more, late in games.
“I think (the grit) came from the start of the season,” said freshman outfielder Lexie Blair. “We took those losses at the start of the season to make us tougher and just provide a bigger, stronger mentality toward our next games… We’ve faced so much adversity from the start, and that’s what we use to just get us through the season.”
With just seven games left before the postseason, the Wolverines are showing they can win on days when pitches aren’t finding the strike zone and bats are connecting with the ball. They’ve shown that they can win with their backs against the wall. And they’re playing with a toughness that few teams around the nation can rival.
After Sunday’s win, Canfield summed up this mentality best.
“If they’re gonna throw a punch, we gotta throw a punch back.”