Freshman outfielder Ellie Sieler had a stellar showing against Bowling Green. Selena Sun/Daily. Buy this photo.

With the No. 23 Michigan softball team on an unprecedented three-game home skid, something needed to change. The bats had been silent and the usually rock-solid pitchers have struggled as of late.

Against Bowling Green, freshman outfielder Ellie Sieler was that change.

Sieler started off the season with 10 straight starts, but after struggling in the batter’s box, she took up a reserve role while her batting average slid to a paltry .154. But Michigan coach Carol Hutchins decided to give her another chance to be a starter against the Falcons on Tuesday.

And she delivered.

“She’s working hard,” Hutchins said. “And we started the season with her. Ellie is a fantastic outfielder and she definitely gives us a great defense.” 

Sieler, though, contributed to more than just defense in the Wolverines’ win against the Falcons. Sieler was down in the count early on her first at-bat of the game. But on the 1-2 pitch, she connected cleanly, launching the ball over the center field wall. It was her first career collegiate home run. 

“It felt pretty good,” Sieler said. “The pitcher had a tendency to throw high. So we prepared for that earlier in warmups, and I feel like throughout the at-bat, I just tried to make some adjustments moving my hands up a little more and choking up a little more.

“And, it was two strikes, and I told myself, ‘If I’m gonna swing at the high pitch swing at it hard,’ and so that’s what I did.”

After getting swept in the double header against Nebraska last Friday, Hutchins repeatedly stated that the team needed a fresh mindset and a confident approach even during hard times. 

Sieler embodied the changes Hutchins sought. She remained confident, even in the midst of a stretch in which she tallied two hits in the last 10 games. She still took aggressive cuts, and it paid off. 

“I tried to be a lot more … confident,” Sieler said. “Just kind of go back to the basics and just kind of focus on, see the ball hit the ball, not trying to worry about mechanics too much and just trust that all the work I’ve put in will come.”

That work continued to pay off in the bottom of the fourth, as Sieler hit a full-count pitch deep into the outfield for a clean single that advanced junior first baseman Lauren Esman to third.

On Tuesday, Sieler provided a new energy, and a new spark to an otherwise quiet Michigan offense. With a crucial weekend series against No. 9 Northwestern approaching, that newfound energy and confidence will be critical. 

Sieler is ready to contribute. The question is: Will the rest of the Wolverines’ bats will follow suit?