During today’s home opener at the brand new Alumni Field at the Wilpon Baseball and Softball Complex, fans will have a clear view of the solid play of shortstop Teddi Ewing and third baseman Maggie Viefhaus.
After the Wolverines outscored their opponents 29-2 last weekend, it would seem all the focus is on the offense.
But allowing just two runs?
That comes from stellar pitching and consistent fielding.
The sixth-ranked Wolverines (4-0 Big Ten, 29-3 overall), committed just three errors in four games last weekend and delivered solid play in the field, cutting off ground balls and grabbing popflys with ease.
“I like to think we’re a well-balanced team,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “We pitch well. We hit well, and we play good defense.”
Ewing and Viefhaus led the defense this past weekend.
While Ewing and Viefhaus lead the Wolverines with eight and six errors respectively, their recent play has been crisp and consistent. They have controlled the left side of the infield with quick catches and sharp throws to first.
In Saturday’s 8-0 six-inning mercy-rule win at Indiana, the pair let just one ground ball escape their reach and connected for outs on every ball they touched.
“We stress offense a lot, but we have to play defense,” Hutchins said. “We have a great third baseman and a great shortstop, and they’re playing good softball right now.”
Last season, Ewing and Viefhaus each started all 60 games for the Wolverines at shortstop and third base. In their first season together, they learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses. That onfield experience and comfort has solidified Michigan’s defense this season.
“I know that Maggie’s got great range, and she’s going to knock down a lot,” Ewing said. “We’ve just learned to work together and know each other’s range.”
After a 32-game, seven-week stretch of road games, fans will finally get to see the Wolverines in action. This afternoon, Michigan hosts Bowling Green (1-1 Mid-American Conference, 1-17 overall) at its newly-renovated home field.
The Wolverines were supposed to travel to Kalamazoo yesterday for a non-conference matchup with Western Michigan, but the game was canceled due to inclement weather.
Beginning after last season, Alumni Field received a complete makeover that includes a new indoor hitting facility, press box, an 1,800-seat grandstand and outfield bleachers that seat 1,000 spectators.
The Falcons have started the season horribly and just ended a 16-game losing streak.
But as always, Hutchins emphasizes to her team the importance of every game, no matter what the team’s record.
“We can’t play our opponent – we have to come in and play Michigan softball,” Hutchins said. “And if we kill them or we win a close game or we lose a close game, we have got to show up and play hard.”