With a long string of games before the beginning of conference play, it’s possible to lose focus for a game or two. But if there is one thing that Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins emphasizes over anything else, it is focus.
“We’re looking to do the same thing we always do, just play good softball,” Hutchins said. “That’s all we’re looking to do.”
Whether it’s playing a top-tier opponent or playing a team with a less than flattering record, No. 1 Michigan (31-1) remains focused on the game ahead.
Bowling Green stands as the game at hand for the Wolverines today. The Falcons (8-16) are the defending MAC Tournament champions but have yet to find their grove this season. Bowling Green’s lack of offense has been the main culprit — the Falcons have scored only 49 runs in their 24 games this season.
Bowling Green’s weakness seems to play right into Michigan’s strength. After allowing seven runs in their opening game loss to Baylor, the Wolverines have allowed just 22 runs in the past 31 games.
But despite the apparent mismatch between the two teams, Michigan’s concentration remains on Bowling Green and not on the looming Big Ten season.
“We’re not in Big Ten play (today),” Hutchins said. “We’ll be in Bowling Green, and they’re in a different conference. We scheduled the game because nonconference games are important to play and to win. If we stay focused on playing good softball then our outcome looks positive.”
Because there are so many games in a season, picking up the win can’t be the lone goal. Hutchins stresses the importance of getting all of her pitchers some playing time, especially in the scenario they face tomorrow.
“Obviously, the biggest thing with only playing one game is what we do with our pitching,” she said. “We lean toward just giving them all a couple of innings because we want them all to have two or three sharp innings.”
One of those pitchers is senior Nicole Motycka, who understands the importance of using nonconference games as an opportunity to improve on her own game.
“If I have a chance to pitch (today), I definitely have a lot of work to do in that area,” Motycka said. “I need to work on my rise ball and changeup, which need to become more consistent. With my hitting, I just need to become more relaxed. I was pretty tense in Louisville.”
As the Wolverines take the field today, they will be looking to make adjustments for the good of the team. But don’t expect them to compromise a win in exchange for improvement.
“We need to play every game like we’re playing the No. 1 team,” freshman first baseman Samantha Findlay said. “We just need to go out there and play our game and know that anybody can win on any given day. If we play our best defense, then we’ll be all right.”