In the top of the seventh inning, as senior right-hander Alex Storako exited the game, she paused for a moment.
There stood fifth-year left-hander Meghan Beaubien, waiting to enter. The pair of veterans hugged each other, taking a moment before Storako handed Beaubien the ball.
On their senior day, in their last game at Alumni Field, the two weren’t ready to make the quick change they had made so many times before over the past four years. Instead, they took their time to embrace each other, absorbing it all one last time.
After the hug, Beaubien made quick work of the opposing Minnesota offense. She retired the final two batters in order, picking up the save. Storako was credited with her 20th win of the season, after coming in for Beaubien and tossing five relief innings to lead the No. 23 Michigan softball team to victory on Sunday.
“Our relationship is really good with just being supportive,” Beaubien said as a tear slid down her cheek. “It’s not jealousy, it’s not ‘I want to do better than you.’ We both want to be great, we want to be great to make this team great.”
But Beaubien’s final outing at Alumni Field did not begin how she envisioned it.
In the second inning, Beaubien struggled to find the strike zone. She walked the leadoff batter, then threw three more balls to the second hitter before walking the third. In a tight game, with two runners on and only one out, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins decided to turn to another option. Storako entered the game, and Beaubien exited.
Beaubien walked off the field, clearly dejected. As she entered the dugout, tears rolled down her face.
“I just needed that moment, then I could collect myself,” Beaubien said, tearing up again. “That just wasn’t what I wanted to be my last moment on this field.”
For a while, it seemed like that was it.
Storako remained in control, and it looked like she could go the distance. She gave up back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning, but even then, she stayed in. Beaubien’s outing, and by extension her time pitching at Alumni Field, appeared to be over.
But an opportunity arose. In the top of the seventh inning, Storako lost her command and walked two of the first three batters she faced — just like Beaubien did back in the second. Again, Hutchins elected to make a pitching change.
And Beaubien re-entered the game.
“The whole game — not that I wanted the pitching to do bad — I was just hoping I would get another opportunity,” Beaubien said. “I was just really excited to be able to close out one last game here.”
This time, when Storako left the game, there were no tears. Only the warm embrace between two lifelong teammates, creating one last memory before they left their home field for the final time.
And it was the perfect way to cap off a pair of remarkable careers. The past four years, Beaubien and Storako have shared the spotlight as a tandem of co-aces. Wolverines all over the field have gone through the revolving door, but the two pitchers have held constant, dominating season after season.
“The both of us know we’ve had some great careers here,” Beaubien said, choking up. “I think if you look at Michigan we’ve been some of the best, and we’re proud of that. And it’s special that we get to be on the same team.”
For two pitchers who have been faces of the Wolverines for so long, it was a fitting way to finish their time in Ann Arbor. In one last home outing, they combined to deliver a Michigan victory in front of the home faithful, sharing one final glorious moment along the way.
Because for Beaubien and Storako, how else could it end?