SEATTLE — No team had ever beaten Washington in a regional game it hosted since 1995. The Huskies were a perfect 52-0.
Yet there Michigan was in the bottom of the seventh, up 2-1, and just three outs away from being the first team to do so.
Alex Storako clearly was ready for the opportunity.
Three outs later — and without throwing a single ball — the game was over. The Wolverines won, and in doing so, showed the NCAA that they belonged.
“We had to just play our game,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “And I’ve told them all week, you don’t have to be better than you are just play the game you know how to play, I really thought we did that.”
To understand the significance of this win you have to go back a week to Sunday night — the NCAA selection show. Many expected Michigan to get a top 16 spot and host a regional at Alumni Field this weekend.
That did not happen.
Instead, they were seeded 17th and were sent across the country to play in Seattle against the 16th seeded Huskies along with Seattle University and Portland State.
“(The selection committee) disrespected our entire conference,” Hutchins said to reporters immediately after the selection show on May 16th. “I’m not very pleased with it at all. Disrespect.”
But they still made the most of the hand they were dealt.
After a Friday night win over the Seattle Redhawks, the Wolverines had their chance at Washington. And, well, you know what happened.
Their 2-1 victory clinched a spot in the Seattle regional final on Sunday. And with the Huskies ace Gabbie Plain having pitched nearly two full games already this weekend, and Michigan needing to only win one more game while any other team needs to win three, the Wolverines truly sit in the driver’s seat.
Michigan’s best performance came against its strongest test to date. In the final rankings before the NCAA selection show, the Huskies came in 6th. The Wolverines’ best opponent prior to Saturday’s game was Minnesota, who was ranked 24th.
Again, Michigan showed that it should have belonged in the national conversation all year. The Wolverines showed that they deserved more respect. And they showed that they should’ve hosted a regional.
Because they didn’t just beat Washington while Plain was on the mound. Michigan controlled the game from the second inning all the way until Storako’s final pitch. The 2-1 scoreline wasn’t truly indicative of how the game went. Because while two solo home runs from senior infielders Lou Allan and Taylor Bump did provide the scoring for Michigan, it had multiple chances throughout the game to score as well, while Washington did not. The Wolverines had two runners reach third base throughout the game, the Huskies had zero. Michigan outhit Washington and Storako outpitched Plain.
But the Wolverines weren’t here to make a grand statement to everyone. They just played their game, they didn’t get weighed down by the fact that they didn’t get a regional or by their competition being a top six team.
And now, just one win away from their first super regional since 2016,Michigan showed that it belongs. No matter tomorrow’s result.
“I think we proved that we can play Michigan softball,” Storako said. “And if the NCAA isn’t ready for that. Then, we’re here.”