Rainstorms cut the weekend short for the Michigan softball team – but the Wolverines caused enough rumble from the batter’s box at the Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational to compensate.
Heavy rain poured into the Austin area Friday and Saturday, and the conditions were soggy enough to postpone Saturday’s game against Penn State and cancel Sunday’s bracket play.
But the 12th-ranked Wolverines battled the rain delay and responded with relentless offense, finishing 3-0 on the weekend and earning wins over their first ranked opponents of the season.
Michigan (7-1) beat No. 17 Cal State Fullerton, No. 24 Texas and Penn State, putting up a combined 28 hits, including a season-high 14 in its 6-1 win over Cal State in the tournament opener.
“We definitely hit the ball better throughout the weekend and had a lot better at-bats, and better composure all the way around,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “I was pleased, and it’s something we’ll continue to work on.”
Against Cal State, senior outfielder Alessandra Giampaolo broke a 1-1 tie in the third inning when she singled home sophomore Molly Bausher, jumpstarting a five-run inning. First baseman Samantha Findlay singled to shortstop. With Giampaolo and Findlay on base, sophomore Maggie Viefhaus laced a triple down the leftfield line to bring in the two seniors.
Sophomore pitcher Nikki Nemitz contributed to the Wolverines’ impressive showing at the plate with the best hitting performance of her career. Nemitz went 3-for-4 at the plate against Cal State with a double and an RBI.
“I was in a great opportunity and I wanted to make the best of it,” Nemitz said of her addition to the offensive lineup. “Help my team out with the win and actually produce on both sides of the field – defense and offense.”
Nemitz (4-0) complimented her offense with solid pitching, shutting down the Titans. She retired nine batters in a row at one point and finished with five strikeouts in her complete-game effort.
Viefhaus continued her offensive prowess in the Wolverines’ 6-2 win over Texas later that day. The third baseman hit a two-run single in the fifth as part of another five-run inning.
“We took advantage of their errors, and we had this great momentum hitting,” Viefhaus said. “It gave us a lot of confidence.”
The rain postponed all of Saturday’s games, but the Wolverines returned to action Sunday and easily earned a 6-2 win against conference rival Penn State.
“I think everyone was really smart with their rain delay,” Viefhaus said. “It didn’t really take us out of the groove or anything. We all came out the next day and played like we had been playing all weekend.”
Freshman pitcher Jordan Taylor (3-1) threw six shutout innings before Penn State showed life in the seventh. After getting just one hit in the first six innings, the trio of Findlay, Viefhaus and freshman leftfielder Dorian Shaw combined for six additional hits in the last two innings to close out the weekend.
“That’s the thick of our lineup right there,” Hutchins said. “It’s tough for any pitcher to have to face those three.”