Sara Driesenga lined up in the circle.
Eastern Michigan’s leadoff hitter dug into her stance, the infield readied themselves and the fifth-year senior right-hander uncorked the first pitch of the game.
Softball was back in Ann Arbor.
No. 2 Michigan (21-2 overall) played its first home game of the season Wednesday, and backed by their potent offense and a strong performance from Driesenga, the Wolverines notched a convincing 14-1 run-rule victory over Eastern Michigan.
“I thought we were locked in,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “Honestly, the first day at home is sometimes very distracting. We’ve been on the road (for) 22 games. These kids have not had a day where they have had a home routine, where they go to class (and) ride the MGoBlue bus. It’s a change in format.”
Michigan began its offensive onslaught early, scoring three runs in the first inning. After senior second baseman Sierra Romero and junior left fielder Kelly Christner were both walked, senior right fielder Kelsey Susalla cleared the bases with a three-run home run.
Eastern Michigan got one run back in the second inning, when right fielder Michelle Kriegshauser blasted a pitch onto the adjacent baseball field.
But the Wolverines came right back in the bottom of the inning.
Freshman infielder Faith Canfield — who started at second with Abby Ramirez out due to a sprained ankle — was hit by a pitch, senior centerfielder Sierra Lawrence walked and Romero singled up the middle to bring Canfield home.
If not for good defense by the Eagles, the Wolverines could’ve broken the game open that same inning. After a Christner walk loaded the bases, Susalla ripped a ball toward first base. But Eagles first baseman Olivia Logan was up to the task, corralling the ball to get the force out. Though a Michigan run crossed home plate, the stellar defensive play prevented additional damage, and Eastern Michigan escaped the inning having given up just two runs.
In the third inning, though, Michigan scored four more runs to increase its lead to eight. Junior third baseman Lindsey Montemarano crushed a two-run homer over the left-center-field fence, while Lawrence and Romero also crossed the plate in the inning.
With Michigan cruising, the fourth inning was much of the same.
Driesenga gave up a leadoff double, but was able to escape the inning unscathed. Montemarano continued her production in the bottom of the inning, when she hit a long double to add another run to Michigan’s lead. Canfield got in on the action in the fourth as well, hitting a three-run shot over the left-field fence for her first career homer.
Driesenga returned to the circle for the fifth inning, inducing three quick outs to clinch the 14-1 run-rule victory.
The right-hander’s win pushed her record to 11-0 and continued a streak of impressive outings. She gave up just two hits on the day, while striking out five.
Driesenga was quick to credit her teammates when asked what was critical to her success.
“Trusting myself, trusting whatever pitch is called, trusting the defense, and even trusting the offense that they’re going to score runs,” Driesenga said. “Trust in general is all-encompassing.”
It was the type of complete performance that Hutchins is looking for from her team.
“It was great that we got a lot of runs,” Hutchins said. “But I thought everybody contributed and did their part. Sara (Driesenga) did a fantastic job. Gave up the early home run but (it) didn’t faze her. She was a great leader for everybody, and it was fun to get all the young kids in.”