Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins looks to have found her No. 2 starter, freshman right-hander Alex Storako

After last weekend, one thing was cleared up for the No. 19 Michigan softball team: who will back up sophomore left-hander Meghan Beaubien in the pitching rotation.

Alex Storako answered that question when the freshman right-hander made her collegiate debut in the first game of the season on Friday. Storako’s entrance at the top of the fifth inning, when the Wolverines were trailing North Carolina State by two, was a testament to the confidence she has earned from Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. She didn’t disappoint, pitching the final three innings without allowing a single hit, which allowed Michigan to squeeze out a narrow 4-3 win.

Coach Carol Hutchins and the softball team went 3-2 in opening weekend.

In the USF Opening Weekend Invitational, Michigan went 3-2, beating North Carolina State 4-3, South Florida 10-1 and Illinois State 11-4 but dropping games against Arizona and Florida, 2-1 and 6-0, respectively. Despite maintaining strong defense throughout most of the tournament, the team’s offense fluctuated, starting slow and building up to strong, high-scoring wins to end the weekend.

Sophomore outfielder Haley Hoogenraad led the team defensively in Michigan's opening weekend.

While Michigan didn’t win, strong defensive plays like that by Hoogenraad were instrumental to the success of the team all weekend, as she made several important catches in each game.

Junior third baseman Madison Uden believes her team can still succeed with a consistent offensive approach, rather than a power-first one.

Ranked No. 19, according to the USA Today, Michigan once again is predicted to come out victorious in the Big Ten with No. 21 Minnesota being the only other team from the conference appearing in the rankings.

Senior catcher Katie Alexander had a .314 batting average last season with 24 runs batted in.

Regardless of how playing time is split, 2019 has the potential to be a special year behind the plate in Ann Arbor. With Alexander’s career set to come full circle, perhaps there isn’t a more fitting way to leave a lasting legacy than by setting an example for her successor.

Sophomore right-hander Meghan Beaubien leads a staff devoid of experience, but full of talent.

Four-year starting first baseman and veteran pitcher, Tera Blanco, has left a void in the No. 19 Michigan softball team’s rotation and batting order. While most softball programs are able to rely on a rotation of two or three strong pitchers, Blanco’s graduation has left Beaubien the sole pitcher with significant experience returning this spring.

Sophomore pitcher Meghan Beaubien pitched three no-hitters last season.

Though the exhibitions, by nature, didn’t yield reported scores or statistics, fall ball provided key insights into Michigan’s coming season. These three main takeaways from fall ball may be pivotal in defining the team's potential this season.

Rising sophomore shortstop Natalia Rodriguez made an immediate impact for the Wolverines last season

It was the work ethic and passion for the game that gave Natalia Rodriguez the opportunity to be the starting shortstop –– a work ethic and passion that can be accredited to her family.

Junior second baseman Faith Canfield contributed to the team's complacency that led to a lackluster season finish.

After turning a rough start into a bounce-back year, a disastrous finish to the regular season carried over into the postseason, leaving the team wondering: "Was it worth it?"

The Michigan softball team went through ups and downs in its 2017-2018 season.

The Michigan Daily looks over the Michigan's softball team's 2017-2018 season and highlights it encompasses.