Taylor Bump stood at the plate with a runner on second and two out. The senior turned on the first pitch she saw, sending it up nearly as high as the lights that illuminated Alumni Field. The moonshot landed far beyond the 222 feet that separated her from the wall, giving the Wolverines their first lead of the game — and one that never dissipated.
The No. 22 Michigan softball team (18-4 Big Ten) handled Maryland (11-14), winning 4-2 in the first of four games in the weekend series between the two teams.
In the first inning, Terrapin junior Regan Kerr sent a hung pitch from senior left-hander Meghan Beaubien deep to right field and over the wall for the first run of the game and Beaubien’s second home run allowed on the year — both of which came in the past two games.
“I think it’s just one of those things where it’s a pitch that was a big miss,” Beaubien said. “I missed my pitch, my pitch got hit. That’s how high-level softball works. That’s what happens when you miss.”
At the bottom of the second, Michigan had its answer on offense. Already with two outs on the board, sophomore designated player Lauren Esman hit a rope to right field that turned into a double. With Esman in scoring position, senior outfielder Haley Hoogenraad hit a single up the middle that scored her teammate, tying the game at one apiece.
Then, on the first pitch of the next at-bat, Bump blasted the ball dead-center for a no-doubt, two-run home run, breaking the game open for the Wolverines.
“We were definitely trying to have Meghan’s back as much as possible because she pitched a great game,” Esman said. “And we just needed to accumulate runs at some point. It didn’t matter if they scored one run or no runs — like to win, you have to score. So that was our goal: just hit the ball hard, focus on hitting opposite fields and just staying loose in the box.”
The inning ended after freshman outfielder Sierra Kersten was caught stealing after reaching base on a Maryland infield miscommunication.
In the fourth, Michigan found a spark yet again. Esman took her own turn to rake the ball far beyond the wall, a shot that landed in the top row of the empty grandstand in right field. After Hoogenraad smacked the ball deep to the track for a stand-up double, the offense petered out with a pop out and a groundout to end the inning.
Following her miscue in the first, Beaubien pitched at the top of her game. Allowing just one hit for the rest of the game and tallying six strikeouts.
“If I throw my pitches like I can throw my pitches and like I’m able to throw my pitches, then I have no reason not to be confident,” Beaubien said. “So I’m just kind of staying confident in the rest of my pitches and continuing to be confident in the change-up even though I missed one.”
Strong play from middle infielders Natalia Rodriguez and Julia Jimenez aided Beaubien’s performance. The senior and junior, respectively, gobbled up every ball hit to them and never failed to turn an opportunity into an out.
Senior first baseman Lou Allan had a strong fielding performance as well. Allan made an athletic stretch play to convert an out in the third, and she turned a grounder straight at her into a double play. A first base tag and a throw to second caught a greedy Terrapin baserunner that stumbled rounding the base while trying to extend their run.
In the seventh, after a throwing error by junior catcher Hannah Carson advanced a Maryland runner to third, a short hit by pinch-hitter Megan Mikami scored the second run for the Terrapins.
Despite the late push, with the next batter, Beaubien forced a grounder to the left of the infield where Rodriguez scooped it up and delivered the throw to tally the final out for the Wolverines.
“I feel like today we really showed that we have a lot of depth in our lineup,” Esman said. “If somebody doesn’t get it done, the next person’s gonna step right up and do it for them and that’s the kind of team we have. A team that’s connected and we have each other’s backs.”