WEST LAFAYETTE – Jordan Taylor’s control wasn’t as sharp as usual this weekend.
But you wouldn’t know it by looking at the box score.
In the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Purdue, a 3-0 win, the freshman had difficulty using her curveball but still retired the first 15 Boilermakers she faced.
In the sixth inning, after Taylor surrendered a leadoff double and hit the next batter with a pitch, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins removed her from the game in favor of sophomore Nikki Nemitz.
The move paid off when sloppy baserunning by the Boilermakers led to a double play and Nemitz struck out the next batter to end the inning.
Taylor appeared upset about being pulled from the game, but Hutchins explained that the substitute was necessary with Purdue (2-2 Big Ten, 23-10 overall) threatening Michigan’s two-run lead.
“It wasn’t an indication that I don’t think she can do it,” Hutchins said. “But we do need her to get both sides of the plate more established. She’s not establishing the curveball as much as we need her to, and as much as she can, because I’ve seen it work.”
Despite a disappointing end to the outing, Taylor’s final stat line showed only one hit and no walks in five shutout innings – along with a ‘W’ to improve her season record to 16-2.
In a game against Indiana the day before (7-23, 0-4), Taylor faced a similar situation but with a different pitch.
She struck out six batters and didn’t walk any in a six-inning, complete-game win at Indiana University Softball Stadium. The Wolverines (4-0, 29-3) defeated the Hoosiers, 8-0.
Despite the strong results, Taylor said inconsistencies in her pitching mechanics kept her from effectively using her changeup during the contest.
“If you slow down your body speed at all for your changeup, they can see the pitch coming,” Taylor said. “The only way the changeup is effective is if the speed of your body is the same.”
Scoring styles: Hutchins said she believes that scoring consistently is the key to a successful season for the Wolverines.
After tallying 30 runs in four games this weekend, the team appears to be in good shape.
But when it comes to how they scored, the Wolverines were anything but consistent – which suited Hutchins just fine.
Sophomore Molly Bausher led off the bottom of the first inning against the Hoosiers Saturday with a drive over the 190-foot sign in deep right field. Combined with Taylor’s shutout performance, that would have been enough offense to take the game.
But Michigan turned the remainder of the contest into a home run derby.
Senior Samantha Findlay, who has a team-high 11 homers, blasted a solo shot, as did Nemitz, and sophomore Roya St. Clair went deep for two RBI as the Wolverines cruised to the eight-run victory.
Michigan won by the same margin in the early game of Sunday’s doubleheader against Purdue.
But in that game, small ball was the key.
Sophomore Angela Findlay’s three-run double in the fourth inning was the only extra-base hit, and Michigan drew six walks off Purdue pitchers Suzie Rzegocki and Ashley DiDomenico.
By driving in five runs with singles or walks, Michigan proved its offense can be potent even when its batters aren’t swinging for the fences.
“I was really impressed,” Hutchins said. “A lot of times, I like to see us just get some base hits and not try to go yard because we have the ability to hit well, regardless of how we do it.”
The freshman has tallied a 16-1 record this season.