The stadium was silent.
There were three balls, two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the seventh. Indiana clung to a narrow 6-5 lead.
Senior designated player Mackenzie Nemitz stood at the plate, one pitch away from a comeback win or a letdown loss to end a long series against Indiana.
One crack of a bat and the game ended. Wrapping up the weekend sweep over a strong Hoosiers team, the senior swatted a double into right field, and the stadium erupted.
“We had to get it done,” said senior first baseman Alex Sobczak. “There’s nothing else to it. The scoreboard read that they were two ahead and we had to get it done to get people around.”
Going into the bottom of the seventh inning, Michigan had trailed for the first time in 14 games since starting the home season at Alumni Field. The Wolverines faced a two-run deficit with three outs to solve it. And the senior class lead the charge.
Down by two runs with an early out on sophomore Natalia Rodriguez’s popup to center field, senior second baseman Faith Canfield entered the batter’s box. In her three previous at-bats Sunday against No. 3 right-hander Emily Goodin, Canfield didn’t tally a hit.
But she needed one in the seventh inning, and she got it. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Canfield hit a home run to center field that shrunk the gap to one run. Now down 7-6, senior outfielder Natalie Peters hit a double to keep the Wolverines’ hopes alive before Goodin intentionally walked Sobczak, who had hit a home run against the pitcher earlier in the contest.
And then Nemitz stepped up.
She hadn’t reached base since her first-inning triple off a fielding error. She hadn’t hit her best all weekend, doing little to maintain her designated player spot. But Nemitz knew she needed to produce.
“I was shaking so hard, but I was honestly so in the zone that I didn’t even know how many runs we needed,” Nemtiz said. “It was mostly about keeping my mind clear. Nothing was really going on besides, ‘You’re going to get it done.’ ”
Five pitches later, she did just that. All eyes turned to Nemitz as she lifted her bat, pulled it back and watched the pitch sail. And then she knocked it. The anticipatory stadium shifted to jubilation. Peters and Sobczak sprinted forward, and the disappointment of Michigan’s looming loss was replaced with elation.
“I got to second and was sitting on the base like ‘Okay I’m not getting out’ and then I see Alex hit home plate and I looked up and we won,” Nemitz said. “From behind, you’ve got to just get it done.”
Nemitz’s cap to the senior-led comeback inning signified their role all season leading the team offensively.
“This game is the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” Sobczak said. “After I hit home, there’s no better feeling. It’s such a high.”
It was quite an inning and an even better way for the seniors to end the tumultuous game collectively.
“It’s just awesome to see all of the hard work pay off in one little inning,” Nemitz said. “That was just a team win. Alex came to me and hugged me and I was just like ‘I did that for you.’ ”