Tired and dejected, Michigan walked off the field. Needing only one win on Monday, the Wolverines could only piece together one run in Monday’s doubleheader matchup against James Madison, which used its momentum from Monday afternoon’s win to upset the No. 15 seed Michigan softball team and end the Wolverines’ season.
Led by redshirt senior right-hander and two-way player Megan Good, the Dukes defeated Michigan, 2-1, making the Wolverines the only regional hosts to not advance to the 2019 Super Regionals. Monday’s loss marked the third straight year that Michigan has not advanced past the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“We never seemed to get it going,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “We didn’t put things together until late and it just wasn’t enough.
“Great year from our team. Team 42 was everything I could have asked for and our senior class was amazing.”
Hutchins surprised everyone before the game even started, starting sophomore Lou Allan at the designated player spot rather than senior Mackenzie Nemitz. Slotting Allan at cleanup, senior first baseman Alex Sobczak and junior third baseman Madison Uden moved down to the No. 5 and No. 6 spots, respectively. And the decision seemed to pay off early as Sobczak slammed a double to right field with just one out in the second inning.
“We felt that Lou had been getting on base and she’d been up three times and been on base two and (Nemitz) had not,” Hutchins said. “I thought it was a better matchup and we wanted to get Lou more than one at-bat.”
But the Wolverines’ kryptonite came back to haunt them again like it had all weekend, as Uden and freshman catcher Hannah Carson both failed to push Sobczak home. And the Dukes took advantage of Michigan’s blown opportunities.
Good — who threw her second complete game of the day — gave James Madison its first run of the game with a solo homer off of sophomore left-hander Meghan Beaubien. In an 11-pitch at-bat that included four straight foul balls, Good finally belted a ball well over the right field wall, putting the Wolverines in comeback mode as they trailed 1-0 going into the bottom of the fourth inning.
And for a second, it looked like Michigan would tie it up. As freshman pinch runner Grace Chelemen sat on the second base bag, Sobczak stepped into the box with a double already under her belt. Vying for another hit to drive the tying run in, Sobczak sent a single to shallow center field.
Hutchins, knowing that hits were tough to come by against Good, sent Chelemen home. But Dukes’ outfielder Cambry Arnold fired a throw to home plate and catcher Kiersten Roadcap tagged Chelemen for the third out of the inning. The Wolverines once again came up empty handed heading into the fifth.
James Madison capitalized on Michigan’s missed chance the very next inning. With Arnold in scoring position, Dukes’ third baseman Hannah File sent a single to center field — just enough to push Arnold home and increase James Madison’s lead to two.
Desperately trying to channel some sort of rally in the seventh, still trailing by two, Sobczak stepped up to the plate and launched a home run to deep left field, igniting a team and stadium that seemed to have given up. Uden followed that up with a single to shallow left field, becoming the tying run as she stood on first base, and the Wolverine faithful came to their feet. After freshman pinch hitter Morgan Overaitis lined out to center, Nemitz, pinch hitting for Hoogenraad, stepped up with the season in her hands.
But she struck out, and the 2019 Michigan softball season was silenced for good.