It was a long drive from Ann Arbor to Mount Pleasant. Many players had class earlier in the day. The atmosphere wasn’t energetic.
Madison Uden changed that.
Led by the junior third baseman's two-run home run in the third inning, the No. 23 Michigan softball team beat Central Michigan, 8-0, in a five-inning run-rule win. With Uden’s home run and a three-run home run from senior infielder Mackenzie Nemitz, the win carried on the success the Wolverines had at the plate Sunday against Nebraska.
To start the in-state contest, senior outfielder Natalie Peters hit a single past the third baseman into left field. Freshman outfielder Lexie Blair followed that hit with a single of her own, moving Peters to third. With two Michigan players on base, senior Mackenzie Nemitz stepped to the plate. She didn’t mirror her performance in Sunday’s game against Nebraska — when she scored a booming home run. She didn’t even come out of the play on base. But Nemitz’s subsequent groundout to the shortstop drove Peters home, putting the Wolverines on the board early.
Already up by one run, Uden hit a home run to right field that drove her and senior first baseman Alex Sobczak — who was already on base — home, increasing Michigan’s lead to three and completely toppling the atmosphere at the Chippewas’ field.
“(The home run) lit a spark in us,” Nemitz said. “Traveling to Central Michigan was kind of a long drive and we all were kind of just dead, and after she hit that, it was just instant light-up of everybody and we just continued to play our game.”
Nemitz especially did that. After Peters hit a fly ball for a double that plated both sophomore shortstop Natalia Rodriguez and senior second baseman Faith Canfield to increase the score to 5-0, Nemitz hit a home run past right center field that brought her, Peters and Blair back around the bases to their teammates celebrating the team’s 8-0 lead around the plate.
“It feels good,” Nemitz said. “It’s something that I have known I can do, so finally having it happen is kind of like a breakthrough moment and kind of gives myself and my teammates the confidence that we need.”
On the mound, that confidence also showed. Freshman right-hander Alex Storako, who pitched all five innings, threw for eight strikeouts, allowing only two hits and zero runs on the day. The game brought Storako’s overall ERA down to 2.00 — only 0.28 behind sophomore Meghan Beaubien, who hasn’t given up a run in her almost 30 innings pitching since resuming play at Alumni Field.
“In the fourth inning, I got out of a bases-loaded jam, so going back on the field for the fifth inning, I just knew that I wanted to end the game and with a bang,” Storako said. “It's just been exciting to be a part of the atmosphere in the dugout and on the field when we celebrate at the plate and it's just really exciting to see people and their at-bats and just really getting to this point.”