At last year’s Women’s College World Series championship game, one spectator sitting in the stands had a special interest in the game. A high school senior at the time, she sat next to her dad and watched the Michigan softball team hoist the national championship trophy, the Wolverines weren’t just players to her – they were her future teammates.
Freshman Teddi Ewing may have been in the stands then, but this year she could be playing in the WCWS. The shortstop from Olathe, Kan., is the one new player consistently in Michigan’s starting lineup, and so far she seems pretty comfortable amongst the national champs.
“It was like a dream come true to come into a program like this,” Ewing said. “When they won, it was really exciting to be able to come onto that.”
And even though most of her teammates sport national championship rings, fitting in hasn’t been a problem.
“I don’t feel like a freshman,” Ewing said. “I just feel like part of the team.”
With 16 games under her belt, Ewing has already notched a home run, four RBI and a .213 average.
Ewing is stepping in for Jessica Merchant, last season’s shortstop who has graduated. Merchant, a two-time All-American, left Michigan with the most career home runs in program history (43) and was fourth all-time in RBI (155). And while her extraordinary stats may be missed, her presence isn’t completely gone.
After being crowned national champion with the Wolverines and an impressive summer stint with the USA Softball Elite Team last year, Merchant returned to Ann Arbor to work as a volunteer assistant coach for the team she starred on. She plans to pursue a career in coaching, and according to Merchant, there’s no better place to get her first year of coaching experience.
“It’s an adjustment,” Merchant said. “I love to play, obviously that’s what I’d rather be doing, but you’ve got to move on.”
Merchant has been able to help Ewing as she feels her way through her first season. Sometimes the two train together at practice, and other times Merchant will pull Ewing aside to tell her what she can work on.
“Anytime she sees something I can change to get better, she helps me,” Ewing said. “She did unbelievable when she played here so to have her here showing me the ins and outs of the position is great. There’s no one better to have doing it.”
Ewing’s first chance to test her skills on the collegiate level came Feb. 17 against DePaul. The game proved to be a memorable one; she collected her first start at shortstop, first hit, first run and first RBI.
“Putting on the jersey was a really cool feeling,” Ewing said. “Stepping on the field that first inning, I was a little nervous. But once you get into the game it’s just like playing any other game.”
She has started every game since, and Merchant sees this as the beginning of a successful college career.
“Teddi’s a great kid,” Merchant said. “She’s tough. Part of being a big-time Division I shortstop is that you have to be mentally strong, and that’s what I want to work with her on. Once you have that, you can have a great career. Teddi’s going to have a great career at Michigan, and she’s going to be a great shortstop for us.”
Bowling Green at Michigan
4 p.m. @ Alumni Field