In her first three seasons at Michigan, Taylor Bump struggled to find offense, and in turn, a consistent spot in the starting lineup. From her freshman to junior year, the senior third baseman averaged 0.174, 0.207 and 0.171.
Now, in her senior year, the story is different. Confidence has crept its way into Bump’s game, and it’s showing.
Just recently in a four-game homestand against Maryland, Bump exploded for three home runs, five hits and seven RBIs. For reference, her previous season-total bests for RBI and home runs were five and two, respectively. That’s right: season total. If Bump only played in the Terrapins series and nothing else all year, she would still have had the most productive season of her career at the plate.
That’s just been how Bump’s year has been going.
In the Wolverines’ 25 games so far this year, Bump has appeared in 24. In those 24 appearances, she’s batted 0.294 and slugged 0.515 to go along with 20 hits, four homers and 12 RBIs.
“Well, we need her to play well in that part of the lineup. We have needed her to do what she’s doing and she’s starting to really get comfortable,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “It’s been definitely helpful to us, and [since] she’s down at the bottom of the order it really gives us a punch down there that I like. She’s got the potential to hit well, she’s got pop in her bat, and it’s been really fun to see it.”
Bump’s confidence has gotten her to where she is now, and it has manifested itself in all facets of her game. But what’s lead to her recent run to form?
“What’s improved is her timing and once your timing is better your confidence improves. She’s really worked at it, she’s committed to it, and confidence is a really important part of your game,” Hutchins said. “We’d like our kids to understand that they own their confidence, that nobody gives you confidence. So, if you can own your confidence, you’re in good shape. It keeps you even keel, keeps you driven, keeps you working hard.”
Through her improved timing, Bump has not only found her confidence — she’s also built on her consistency. She’s failed to register a hit in just six games all season. She’s been the power-hitting presence the Wolverines have needed near the back of the order and shows no signs of slowing down.
And again, Michigan has needed her production. In the Friday game against Maryland last weekend, the top of the order went hitless. It was on the back half to generate offense, and they delivered the runs and the 4-2 win. Bump was one of the catalysts, hitting a two-run homer to center field that gave the Wolverines a lead they never relinquished.
It goes to show that Michigan needs the back half of the order to produce if it wants to keep its place atop the Big Ten standings. And the back half of the order’s offense starts with Bump.
“It all comes down to confidence and just trusting your preparation,” Bump said. “And finally just getting to the point of letting go of the pressure that we’re feeling, and just trusting that we’re ready for that moment, and just do whatever we can to capitalize on that. So I would just say my confidence carried me — even if I didn’t get a hit.”
It’s safe to assume that the Wolverines like where they sit. To keep winning, they’ll need to find offense from more than just the top of the order. But they’re in good shape because Bump is playing her best softball in a Michigan uniform.
And, of course, she’s finally owning her confidence.