The No. 19 Michigan softball team did its job.
The Wolverines won all four games in the weekend slate against Penn State (5-26 Big Ten), improving to 28-5 on the season. In total, they outscored the Nittany Lions 34-6, including two run-rule victories on Saturday that ended 10-0 and 12-2, respectively. The closest game came on Sunday with a 5-3 win that Michigan was in control of from beginning to end.
Penn State, the bottomfeeders of the Big Ten, opened its season with 15 straight losses and has only won a total of five games, three of which came against second-to-last place Rutgers.
So the Wolverines, who sit atop the conference, did exactly what they were expected to do: thrash them.
It began in the first game. Michigan broke the seal in the third inning, scoring three runs in the frame: two off a double from senior first baseman Lou Allan and another off a double from senior third Baseman Taylor Bump.
The Wolverines struck again in the seventh, the first run coming on an error by Penn State left fielder Lilia Crouthamel. Allan and Bump each knocked another run in, followed by sophomore utility player Audrey LeClair, who knocked a single into centerfield to bring Bump home and stretch the lead to 7-0.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Nittany Lions managed one run but came nowhere close to engineering a comeback, and the game would end at 7-1.
“We wanted to come out swinging, come out scoring runs first, and that’s exactly what we did,” junior outfielder Lexie Blair said. “I think we did a great job.”
The next day, Michigan pressed its foot down on the gas even harder.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Wolverines put up 10 runs in a collective effort that included a homerun by Bump, a single by junior catcher Hannah Carson that scored two, a two-RBI double from Allan and a single from sophomore Jessica Garmen on a pinch hit in her first collegiate at-bat.
In the second bout of the day, Michigan wasted no time, putting up four runs in the first inning off of a two-RBI Allan double and a two-run homerun from Bump. In the sixth, sophomore infielder Julia Jimenez banged a triple down the line, scoring two. After another run scored, Blair stepped up to the plate with two out and two on. Blair proceeded to send the ball over the fence on a three-run homer, putting the Wolverines up 12-2 and tallying Michigan’s sixth run of the inning.
It was the fourth RBI of the game for Blair, one of the Wolverines’ strong performers alongside Allan, Bump, Jimenez and senior infielder Natalia Rodriguez, who went 3-of-4 with two runs.
After both of Saturday’s games ended in run-rule victories, Sunday’s matchup was a change of pace. Michigan came out on top, but by a much smaller 5-3 margin. The Wolverines’ runs came early, all five in the first three innings. The Nittany Lions came on later, in a comeback effort that amounted to three runs. It was shut down in the bottom of the seventh on three straight strikeouts, sending Michigan back to Ann Arbor with the sweep.
Michigan’s pitching stayed strong on the weekend. Junior right-hander Alex Storako and senior left-hander Meghan Beaubien got the majority of the time in the circle, tallying 40 strikeouts combined. Senior right-hander Sarah Schaeffer got some quality time in the circle as well, notching four strikeouts and just one earned run in two innings.
Entering the weekend, Michigan objectively appeared to be the better team. By the end of Sunday, the Wolverines proved why they hold first place in the Big Ten while Penn State sits at the very bottom.
“(Hutchins) was telling us all weekend that Penn State’s in the way of our goals,” Blair said. “And we look at any team the same way. … we play any opponent, no matter what the ranking is, to the best of our ability and we go from there.”