Sometimes, there’s just no time to rest.
Today in Kalamazoo, the Michigan softball team is finding that out the hard way. Less than 48 hours after it wrapped up a 3-1 victory over Northwestern to sweep a doubleheader, the Wolverines are back in action for two more games against Western Michigan.
“I think the biggest fatigue factor comes from being outside – those kids were on the field from 10:45 until somewhere after five o’clock,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “And I tell you what: (The cold weather) makes you really tired and sore. It makes your muscles tired, so the fatigue factor comes from the cold, and that will be something they’ll have to overcome.”
Michigan (3-1 Big Ten, 19-8 overall) can’t afford to come out sluggish against a Broncos team on the rise. The team is hitting a collective .288, .50 points higher than last year at this time.
In addition, Western Michigan has already slugged 19 homeruns this season, almost doubling the previous school record of 10 set in 1996
“I think that they’re a rapidly improving program,” Hutchins said. “They’re a good hitting team, and our pitchers are going to have to come to play.”
Western Michigan junior Jaymie Voss leads the Broncos with a .348 batting average and 14 RBIs, and is third on the team with three homeruns through 26 games. The Kalamazoo native will probably be the toughest out for the Wolverines in the doubleheader.
The Broncos (4-2 MAC, 14-12) have faced two Big Ten opponents so far this season, defeating Illinois 5-1 on March 7 and falling to Purdue 4-1 a day later.
Michigan split games with Illinois this weekend, dropping a 4-0 decision on Friday before coming alive in a 12-4 win on Saturday.
Senior Marissa Young will be one of the pitchers that Michigan will turn to in today’s action.
After taking her first loss of the season in a start on Friday, Young bounced back on Sunday, pitching well in a no-decision in the first game and earning a win in relief in the second game.
Young leads the team with an 11-1 record and an impressive 1.38 ERA through her 16 appearances. She just moved into sole possession of second place on Michigan’s all-time wins list with 77.
Young also led the team at the plate over the weekend, hitting the game-winning homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning in the first game and driving in two of runs in the top of the eighth inning of game two.
Following an 0-for-2 mark at the plate on Friday, Young bounced back with an impressive 4-for-4 performance on Saturday, including three RBIs and two runs scored.
“I was seeing the ball a lot better,” Young said after Saturday’s game.
Young – who leads the team with six homers on the season – will be an asset to her team today, as she has been all her career, according to Hutchins.
“Marissa Young has been valuable since the day she walked into Ann Arbor,” Hutchins said.
Junior Monica Schock has also been hot at the plate for the Wolverines. The catcher combined for three hits on Sunday and extended her hitting streak to 10 games, a team-high this season.
Most importantly for Michigan, the team will look to find a sense of stability at the plate following a weekend where it scored zero, 12, six and three runs in its four outings.
“In general, I want us to come back from a great two wins (on Sunday) and stay consistent,” Hutchins said. “We’re looking for consistency at this point.”