LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, Louisville pitcher Kristin Wadwell delivered an 0-2 pitch to Michigan sophomore Maggie Viefhaus. The offering appeared close to the plate’s inside corner and the crowd stirred in expectation of a strikeout.
But the home plate umpire’s right hand remained still. A ball.
The Cardinals’ fans groaned. “That’s awful!” one spectator yelled.
Viefhaus simply composed herself, stepped back into the batter’s box and smacked the next pitch between the first and second basemen, scoring senior Alessandra Giampaolo from third and sophomore Angela Findley from second, to turn a 2-1 Wolverine deficit into a 3-2 lead.
Sophomore Nikki Nemitz later added a two-run RBI single of her own, but Viefhaus’s hit proved to be the difference in No. 9 Michigan’s 5-2 win over the Cardinals in the championship game of the Louisville Tournament yesterday.
Five of six Wolverine hitters before Viefhaus had been retired on fly balls. Michigan coach Carol Hutchins told her players to adjust their hitting strategy, which could have been the reason for the fifth-inning offensive explosion.
“We’d had a lot of really good at-bats,” Hutchins said. “We swung at good pitches, but we were getting under the ball and that inning I said, ‘You need to get on top of the ball.’ “
The team heeded the advice. All four of the Wolverines fifth inning hits came on ground balls or line drives.
Pitcher Jordan Taylor kept Louisville’s offense at bay throughout the game, allowing three hits and racking up 12 strikeouts in seven innings. The win was Michigan’s second against the Cardinals in as many days.
On Saturday afternoon, the Wolverines mustered just one hit off Wadwell in the first six innings, but Samantha Findlay scored on an error in the sixth, tying the contest. Then, Viefhaus was walked with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to drive in the winning run.
“I thought in the eighth inning we came back on offense and we had some great moxie about us that we hadn’t had the whole game,” Hutchins said.
Offense was no problem for Michigan in Saturday morning’s five-inning game against Miami (Ohio). The Wolverines scored six runs in the first inning and another six in the fourth, with the big blow coming on a grand slam off the bat of Findlay. Taylor tossed her first career no-hitter, coming a walk away from perfection in the 12-0 Michigan win.
The Wolverines also defeated Minnesota, 7-2, Friday behind 3 RBIs from Findlay and 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball from Nemitz.
After going undefeated on the weekend, Michigan has now won 14 straight games. The Wolverines will travel to Fullerton, Calif., for the Judy Garman Classic next weekend before beginning Big Ten play.