Sophomore Samantha Findlay hasn’t missed a step from her breakout freshman year.
In the first inning of the Michigan softball team’s game against Canisius yesterday, Findlay took a 2-0 fastball and drove it over the leftfield fence, scoring senior Tiffany Haas and giving the Wolverines an early 2-0 lead.
Michigan never relinquished its lead in the laid-back atmosphere of the fall season as it cruised to a 6-0 win and then defeated Eastern Michigan 1-0 in its second game during the Michigan Softball Fall Invitational at Alumni Field.
“We’re just looking to get better,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “We were trying to give everyone some experience out there and get the freshman out there.”
Behind a solid performance from junior pitcher Lorilyn Wilson and freshman Stacy Delaney, the Wolverines stymied the Griffins’ offense, allowing just two hits and no runs.
Wilson started the game for the Wolverines, sitting the Canisius hitters in order in the first inning. The junior mixed her pitch location and speed and kept the Griffins off-balance through her five innings of work.
Delaney came in to pitch the sixth and seventh innings for the Wolverines and continued Wilson’s dominance, preserving the Michigan victory.
Sophomore Alessandra Giampaolo powered the Michigan attack – sparked by Findlay’s first-inning home run – driving in three runs in three at-bats.
In the second inning, Giampaolo fought off a Courtney Piar pitch, blooping it into leftfield and scoring senior Becky Marx and Haas. Giampaolo added to the Michigan lead again in the fourth inning when she hit a hard groundball that Canisius’s second baseman couldn’t glove on the backhand attempt. Junior Rebekah Milian hustled around second base and never hesitated when rounding third to score.
The Wolverines carried the momentum of their Canisius victory into the final game of the invitational as Michigan faced off against cross-town rival Eastern Michigan.
Locked in a scoreless battle, the Wolverines threatened to break the game open in the fifth and sixth innings.
With runners on first and second and one out in the fifth inning, freshman Teddi Ewing grounded out to shortstop followed by a Milian groundout to third.
Then, in the sixth inning, Haas led off the Wolverines’ attack with a line drive to centerfield. After a Findlay popup to second base, Giampaolo took the first pitch that she saw and ripped it through the middle of the infield. But with the bases loaded and two outs, senior Stephanie Bercaw popped up down the first baseline to end the Michigan threat.
“We didn’t look like we were very aggressive,” Hutchins said. “We didn’t look like we were very tough at the plate. I don’t think that we were very consistent at all.”
Entering the seventh inning still deadlocked, the Wolverines once again looked to take the lead and the victory as Findlay came to the plate with runners on second and third and two outs. Eastern Michigan’s Nikki Denman rose to the occasion, striking out Findlay on four pitches.
As extra innings started, the teams adopted international rules where the batter who made the last out from the previous inning starts at second base in the next inning.
Michigan finally broke the tie when junior Tiffany Worthy worked a full count with Findlay on second base and two outs in top of the eighth inning. Worthy drove the sixth pitch of the at-bat through the left side of the infield allowing Findlay to score and give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.
“I was thinking that I had to step up, make an adjustment and hit the ball,” Worthy said. “I was looking for a strike to hit.”
In the bottom of the eighth, the Eagles made the game extra exciting with runners on first and third with two outs. But Wilson got Kelly Tomczak to hit a fly ball, which Bercaw caught in rightfield to give the Wolverines a 1-0 win.
Though the Wolverines enjoy early-season victories in the fall season, they know that just getting in playing shape and on the field in competitive action are the most important aspects.
“We get to see what we have and who’s who,” Hutchins said. “In the fall, the good thing is that people get to play, and the most important thing is to get some good game experience.”
Michigan finishes its fall tournament schedule with a trip to Nebraska for the Nebraska Fall Classic on Oct. 14-16.