There”s a bulletin board in the Michigan softball team”s lockerroom. You”d think that with an 11-game win streak and an undefeated conference record to lead the Big Ten, perhaps a line like “Keep on rolling” might be appropriate to pin up on the board.
But when the Wolverines entered their lockerroom yesterday, on the board was coach Carol Hutchins” aphorism: “We have accomplished nothing yet.”
There”s no doubt Hutchins is thrilled with how her team has been playing the past two weeks. She”s merely pointing out that with four Big Ten games this weekend a doubleheader against Minnesota today at 2 p.m. and a pair against Wisconsin on Saturday and Sunday there”s no room for riding on the coattails of old victories.
“We”re not going to get too excited about our wins,” Hutchins said. “We”re not going to worry about anything other than the games in front of us.
“You can”t go up there and worry about winning four games. You”ve got to worry about the first game and then worry about the next game.”
Michigan”s pitchers have been suffocating the competition with the one-two punch of Marissa Young and Marie Barda. Young is usually known for starting slow but heating up as the game goes along. That might be a problem because the Golden Gophers aren”t a team she wants to get behind.
Minnesota has a 16-1-1 against record when it scores first, including a 12-0 record when scoring in the first inning.
But Hutchins doesn”t worry about stats she worries about her team”s effort. And Michigan has been consistently playing at a high level in and out of conference games.
“The one thing this team has gotten really good at doing the last two weeks is playing intense regardless of who we”re playing,” Hutchins said. “We were just as intense for Central Michigan as we were for Indiana and Purdue last weekend. I”m really pleased to see that.”
The Badgers have allowed 56 stolen bases, which is chop-licking information for Michigan”s leadoff batter Melissa Taylor. Taylor is batting .481 and often gets to first by beating out bunts. She leads Michigan in steals and will be looking to exploit Wisconsin”s catcher Nicki Starry.
Taylor “had her hardest effort ever in the weight room, and I think it”s paid off,” Hutchins said. “You count on the seniors, especially a four-year starter to come back, lead by example and get it done for us.”
Hutchins also hopes Michigan secondbaseman Kelsey Kollen, who was named Big Ten player of the week, will step it up.
Kollen has “really gotten it done for us,” Hutchins said. “She”s having a great year and she”s worked very hard.”
Kollen has turned Michigan around from a team that struggled early in the season to one that is sure of its ability. It”s “good news is we”re playing with good confidence we”re a very confident team right now,” Hutchins said. “It”s a beautiful sight.”