Michigan 1, Michigan State 2

With a Big Ten regular-season title on the line yesterday, the Michigan softball team came out swinging against Michigan State. The Wolverines hit the ball well, but in the end, had nothing to show for it. Michigan finished with nine hits, but failed to score after the first inning and lost 2-1.

“I told them it wasn’t meant to be,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “When you hit the ball as well as we hit it all day, I don’t know what else you can do.”

Michigan (13-5 Big Ten, 39-12 overall) also had a chance to clinch the conference title on Saturday, but a walk-off homer gave the Spartans a 2-0 win.

The Wolverines loaded the bases with one out in the first inning. But after sophomore Jessica Merchant hit a sacrifice fly, senior Marissa Young lined out to end the threat after Michigan scored just one run.

The Spartans (13-6, 35-15) responded in the third inning with a little help from the Wolverines.

With two outs and a runner on first, Michigan State’s Margaret Schick hit a slow roller between the pitcher’s mound and first base. Three Wolverines attempted to field, but no one covered first base.

Natalie Furrow followed Schick’s single with a scorcher down the left field line to drive in a run, but senior left-fielder Melinda Moulden overran the ball, and her error allowed a second run to score.

In the third inning, after Moulden hit a one-out single, Michigan State coach Jacquie Joseph put in her ace, Jessica Beech, who had shut down the Michigan lineup Saturday.

Monica Schock was the first Wolverine to face Beech, and lined out to left field. Merchant followed by smacking the ball off the bottom of the fence in left-center. Hutchins sent Moulden home, but the relay beat her to the plate.

Though Michigan continued to hit the ball solidly the rest of the game, it could never muster more than one hit in an inning off Beech.

“I just felt like (starter) Stephanie (Christner) had seen them all once, and they were starting to get to her,” Joseph said. “I wanted to go down with our number one pitcher on the mound.”

With Michigan’s losses, Iowa wins the regular-season championships, and will host the Big Ten Tournament beginning Thursday.

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