For the first time in her Michigan career, Samantha Findlay isn’t picking up her first baseman’s mitt on game days.
The senior, who was a three-year starter at first for the Wolverines and a two-time First Team Great Lakes All-Region Team honoree at the position, made the switch to second base this season.
To bolster the Michigan softball team’s outfield presence, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins decided to move last season’s second baseman, sophomore Molly Bausher, to centerfield. She also moved former center fielder senior Alessandra Giampaolo to leftfield.
“She’s our fastest player,” Hutchins said of Bausher. “We thought we needed some team speed out there with some range. Alessandra is certainly a great outfielder, but her range is not as good as it used to be. She’s had a lot of injuries.”
The newly designed outfield opened up second base for Findlay. In fall practices, the Lockport, Ill., native spent some practices at second and knew that she might be needed there in the spring.
After playing second base in youth softball and in high school, the transition has been seamless. She first took the position at the Time Warner Invitational Feb. 15-17 and has been solid since. With just two errors (.984 fielding percentage), Findlay has quickly found her niche.
“She has a great savvy for the game,” Hutchins said. “I didn’t think it would be a huge adjustment for her, and I think she’s done a real nice job of just staying within herself.”
Even though Findlay was regarded as one of the top first basemen in the conference, she’s put aside her record to help her team.
“We’re just doing whatever it takes to win, and if that’s the best lineup, then we’ll adjust,” Findlay said. “I’ve just learned to accept my role and go with it.”
Findlay has adjusted by covering more ground and increasing her vocal presence on the field. Playing deeper than at first, she faces more bouncing ground balls that can be difficult to field.
But her experience in the infield has proven invaluable.
“She’s simply said, a tough kid,” Hutchins said “She plays second base a lot like she played first base – with a lot of passion because she has a passion for this team.”
Freshman Dorian Shaw has taken over at first base. Sharing her breath of knowledge and experience, Findlay has helped acclimate Shaw to the position.
“Sam being a senior and playing first for her first three years, she knows what to tell me at different times,” Shaw said. “She might know if a hitter is especially strong to rightfield or she’ll tell me when she’s moving up the middle. She does a really good job communicating with me.”
In the infield, Findlay has made an impact no matter how far away she is from the dugout. As one of two senior starters, the co-captain’s demeanor and presence has set a tone for the team.
“She’s done a great job of helping her teammates.” Hutchins said. “She’s been the consummate team leader and the unselfish teammate.”