- Terra Molengraff/Daily
By Erin Lennon, Daily Sports Writer
Published July 17, 2013
After a whirlwind season that took the No. 7 Michigan softball team all the way through an Oklahoma City tornado to its first Women’s College World Series appearance since 2005, the best is yet to come.
Though the Wolverines lose five seniors from their 2014 campaign — fifth-year pitcher Stephanie Spierman, second baseman Ashley Lane and co-captains, third baseman Amy Knapp and utility player Jaclyn Crummey — Michigan coach Carol Hutchins will rely on a star-studded freshman quad to take her team back to the appropriately named “Cinderella City.” And for what this class lacks in quantity — the Wolverines boasted seven freshmen on the roster last year — it makes up for in quality .
Hutchins announced three of her four recruits — Abby Ramirez, Megan Betsa and Kelly Christner — in November of 2012. The Wolverines will also be joined by outfielder Lindsay Montemarano from Seaford, NY.
Ramirez, a middle infielder from Chicago, finished her senior season batting .596 with 20 home runs and 48 RBI. The heavy hitter also slugged 1.519 in 2013 — over .500 points above sophomore hitting phenom and reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Sierra Romero before her freshman season. A shortstop by nature, Ramirez will likely stand beside Romero at either second or third base, both of which remain unfilled starting positions entering fall ball.
Ramirez will be as good a fit in the classroom as she is on the field. A pre-law hopeful, she was accepted to Michigan with a 4.11 weighted GPA and the extracurriculars — coaching youth softball — to match.
The second of two freshman on scholarship, pitcher Megan Betsa, enters the University as a veteran Wolverine. This Union Grove, Ga., native took her own McDonough High School Wolverines to their first two Georgia State Championship with a fastball that mimics national championship winning ace and USA national team member, Oklahoma’s Keilani Ricketts. Betsa finished her high school career with 1,349 strikeouts and 95 wins. With the departure of pitcher Stephanie Speirman and an injury-prone junior pitcher in Haley Wagner, Betsa — who stands at 5’ 8” — will provide an extra dropball presence next to junior right-hander Sara Driesenga.
Christner, a 5-8 outfielder from Tinley Park, Ill., has earned all-conference accolades and the Victor J. Andrew Scholar-Athlete Award in all four years of high school. She joins sister Katie — an infielder for Wisconsin — in Big Ten softball. In her junior season, Christner, a three-time Chicago Sun Times all-area selection, batted .526 as a junior with six home runs, five triples, 43 runs batted in and 49 runs scored.
Having missed her junior season after back surgery, Montemarano’s commitment to Michigan is a dream come true. A long-time Wolverine fan, Montemarano was a three-season athlete and pitcher for her high school on Long Island. She plans to major in Sports Management with hopes of becoming a coach after college.
A team that draws homegrown talent each year, Michigan’s incoming class lacks a player from the mitten, but could add walk-ons during during preseason. Vacant starting positions will likely be answered in the fall, when the incoming freshmen will participate in their first scrimmages as Wolverines.