WEST LAFAYETTE – Up by two runs with two opposing runners on base and no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, No. 6 Michigan’s lead was precarious at best.
And when Purdue’s Kelli Miller reached first on an error by second baseman Samantha Findlay to load the bases, it only made things worse.
But after Findlay tossed the ball back to sophomore pitcher Nikki Nemitz, the Boilermakers gave baserunning a bad name.
They ran their way into a double play, helping the Wolverines (4-0 Big Ten, 29-3 overall) preserve their lead. Michigan beat Purdue and Indiana twice each on the weekend by a combined 29-2 score.
Looking for a rally, Purdue attempted to steal home, but Nemitz was quick to respond and ripped the ball to catcher Roya St. Clair for the tag at home. But the Boilermakers’ mistake didn’t end there. The runner on second tried to swipe third.
She over-slid the base as St. Clair delivered the ball to shortstop Teddi Ewing covering third. Ewing tagged out the runner to complete an unconventional double play. Although the runner at first advanced to second, the Wolverines regained control of the inning.
“We could have had nobody out and bases loaded, but instead we had runner on second and two outs,” third baseman Maggie Viefhaus said. “It was a really big momentum changer, and the infield did a great job.”
Throughout the play, the infield remained poised and confident as it voiced the location of the ball and where the baserunners were headed.
“We practice all the time communicating and telling each other where to throw the ball,” Ewing said. “When the play happened, (Purdue) just happened to make some mistakes, and we got to capitalize on them.”
Michigan never let go of its lead, beating Purdue (2-2, 23-10) 3-0 in the second game of Sunday’s double-header.
After dominant offensive performances in their first three contests of the weekend, the Wolverines’ bats were quiet through the first two innings of the second game against Purdue, registering just two hits.
Michigan tallied its first run of the game with two runners on in the third inning, when Nemitz sliced the ball into shallow right field. Her single scored Samantha Findlay. Findlay scored again when she ripped a towering blast over the right field fence in the fifth to make the score 2-0.
Freshman pitcher Jordan Taylor (16-2) was solid from the circle through five innings, giving up just one hit. Nemitz replaced Taylor in the sixth for the save.
In its first stop this weekend, Michigan dominated Indiana in a 10-2 decision Friday and an 8-0, six-inning mercy Saturday in Bloomington. Heavy rain Sunday morning delayed the start of the double header against the Boilermakers, but when play resumed, the Wolverines came out swinging.
Anchored by a three-run double by sophomore Angela Findlay in the fourth, Michigan notched its second mercy of the weekend in the 8-0 five-inning win in which seven Wolverines registered hits.
“It’s a good start for the Big Ten,” Samantha Findlay said. “I think any win in the Big Ten is a good win, and we can’t take any team for granted.”