Softball

Senior catcher Katie Alexander is tied for the Wolverines' lead in home runs, providing an important power dimension for Michigan's offense.

To say Katie Alexander has had a power surge is an understatement.

In the past week, the Michigan’s senior catcher has fired four balls out of the park, doubling her home run total from four to eight.

Morgan Overaitis hit her first home run of her collegiate career Tuesday.

Tuesday night, Morgan Overaitis stepped to the plate for her first at-bat in East Lansing. A substitute in the lineup, the freshman infielder replaced senior second baseman Faith Canfield, the team’s leader in runs, in the batting order. Canfield had already hit a single, double and triple in the game, giving Overaitis big shoes to fill.

And the cleats fit to a tee.

Michigan coach Carol Hutchins contributed to the championship banner that hangs in Michigan State's outfield.

Each year, the Michigan softball team plays a road game at Michigan State. And each year, coach Carol Hutchins seizes the opportunity to give her team a history lesson.

At Secchia Stadium, the right field fence is draped in a green 1976 AIAW National Champions banner. The crown, which came four years after Congress passed Title IX of the Education Amendments, is the Spartans’ lone national championship.

Alex Storako pitched six innings in relief while striking out 15 batters and allowing zero runs.

This contest marked several other firsts in Storako’s career, including the first time she has pitched six innings without a hit and seven innings with just one hit.

Storako’s stamina would be a huge asset to the Wolverines if it were to continue into the rest of the season. With 147 innings already piled on Beaubien’s left arm, having Storako as a reliable second pitcher may be the difference between success and failure in the postseason.

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Looking to avenge last year’s first round loss in the Big Ten tournament that set the tone for the rest of its disappointing postseason, the Michigan softball team traveled to East Lansing only to be greeted by an even mix of green and white and maize and blue. And the Wolverines made sure they dazzled the visiting crowd, narrowly avoiding a run-rule victory and winning 12-1.

Michigan sophomore shortstop Natalia Rodriguez provides versatility for the Wolverines in every facet of the game.

At the plate, Rodriguez has taken a massive leap forward. After posting a .250 batting average last season — the worst among the Wolverines’ starters — Rodriguez spent much of the offseason in the batting cage. Now, as one of the country’s only true switch-hitters, she poses a threat regardless of the situation. Her ability to bunt from both sides of the plate, slap-hit from the left side and swing away from the right side makes her the Big Ten’s jack of all trades.

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Following the senior catcher’s lead, the No. 21 Michigan softball team went 2-1 in three games against Ohio State, winning, 10-3 and 6-2, before dropping the weekend’s final game, 2-1. Even with the loss Saturday, which snapped the Wolverines’ 15-game win streak, the two comeback wins marked a shift in power at the plate, a welcome sign for Michigan’s offense, which at times has lacked in run generation.

Junior right fielder Haley Hoogenraad hit a grand slam on Friday.

Michigan swept Nebraska, Rutgers and Indiana en route to a 9-0 record to begin Big Ten play. During this start, the Wolverines posted a batting average of .315 and plated more than seven runs per game. But Hoogenraad and Alexander — the seventh and eighth batters in Michigan coach Carol Hutchins’ lineup — didn’t partake in the hit parade. The duo posted an average of just .220, while the first four hitters in the lineup combined for a .396 clip.

But in Columbus, Hoogenraad and Alexander flipped the switch.

The Michigan softball team kicks off a seven-game road trek with a three-game series at Ohio State and a single game at Michigan State.

And it’s not just a single matchup away from home. First, the Wolverines will head to Columbus for a weekend series before traveling to East Lansing for a Tuesday-night standoff against the Spartans.

After a slow start to the season, Senior Natalie Peters has found a groove of late .

In the past month, Peters has put any questions of whether she peaked as a sophomore to rest.