As fifth-year senior outfielder Haley Hoogenraad took to the plate in the bottom of the second inning, the clouds gave way to the sun for just a moment. The overcast day brightened, and Hoogenraad took advantage, popping an 0-1 pitch high into the right field sky. Spartan right fielder Marissa Trivelpiece camped under the ball, but lost it in the shining sun. The ball landed beside her and rolled towards the right field wall.
Junior catcher Hannah Carson scored easily from second, and Hoogenraad turned on the jets. She aggressively rounded third base and slid into home. Her left hand swiped the plate, beating out the throw for an inside-the-park home run.
“As soon as (Michigan coach Carol Hutchins) sent me around third I was like, ‘I’m scoring,’ ” Hoogenraad said. “I was like, ‘OK, alright, I’m going.’ I’m ready to score, like I’m ready for whatever play we need to score.”
The home run propelled the No. 22 Michigan softball team (17-4 Big Ten) to a 2-1 lead that it never relinquished as the team went on to defeat Michigan State (7-14), 6-1.
The Spartans, however, were the first to strike in the afternoon.
In the top of the second inning, senior left-hander Meghan Beaubien was looking to strike out the side. Trivelpiece, however, had other ideas. Facing a 1-2 count, she sent a laser-beam home run into right-field, silencing the ecstatic Wolverine dugout and giving the Spartans the early 1-0 lead.
Beaubien bounced back in the top of the third, building on the momentum of the Hoogenraad home run, posting two strikeouts in the scoreless frame.
After the Wolverines went down in order in the bottom of the third, junior right-hander Alex Storako entered the game for Beaubien and dominated, extending Beaubien’s strong performance by retiring all 12 batters faced, nine via the strikeout, over four innings.
“(Beaubien and Storako) are just consistent, they’re solid, they do their part,” Hutchins said. “Those two have shown that they can go the distance.”
In the bottom of the fourth, Carson entered the batter’s box with a runner at first base. She then slapped a double off the right-center field wall, scoring freshman pinch-runner Kaylee Rodriguez from first base and extending the Michigan lead to 3-1.
The bats stayed hot in the fifth, when senior first baseman Lou Allan built off her three home-run weekend at Ohio State last weekend with a deep single to right, scoring sophomore utility-player Lauren Esman from second base and extending the Wolverine lead to 4-1.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Spartans replaced left-hander Sarah Ladd with right-hander Jala Wright, to no avail. Sophomore outfielder Lexi Voss entered as a pinch-hitter with one out, belting a 1-1 double into right-center field. Hoogenraad then reached on an error and Voss would later score on a wild pitch in the dirt.
Next, junior outfielder Lexie Blair stepped-up to bat with her 20 game hit-streak on the line. She extended the streak to every game this season, transferring her stellar production to Ann Arbor, chopping a single past first base and scoring Hoogenraad to blow the game open at 6-1.
In Michigan’s homecoming, it cruised to victory in-front of the socially-distant crowd.
“There’s nothing like Alumni Field, you know, I never take Alumni Field for granted,” Hutchins said. “It’s just home sweet home so it was great to be home.”