With the bases loaded and two outs, Michigan softball catcher
Monica Schock threw the ball back to her pitcher Jennie Ritter just
like she did after every pitch of the game. But this time it was
different.

Beth Dykstra
Pitcher Jennifer Ritter and the Wolverines lost a close game to Florida State. (REBECCA SAHN/Daily)

As soon as Schock threw the ball, Florida State base runners ran
a successful triple steal that gave them the lead and ultimately a
1-0 win in the semifinals of the Florida State Invitational.

“I feel that there are several things that we have to take
care of, and we got beat because we didn’t take care of
details,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “Whether
it was that we didn’t look the runner back enough, we
didn’t cover third base, or our pitcher didn’t receive
the ball and check the runner, they took advantage of our lack of
attention to details. We just need to make sure that we do a better
job with it in the long run and get better at the
details.”

With the game stuck in a scoreless tie in the bottom of the
sixth, Ritter got herself into her first jam of the day. After
giving up two singles and a fielder’s choice, Ritter faced
Florida State slugger Leslie Palmer with two outs and runners on
the corners. Hutchins decided to intentionally walk Palmer, and
Florida State was poised for its game-winning triple steal.

After the steal, Ritter struck out the batter, Beth Wade, on the
next pitch, and Michigan came up for its last chance in the top of
the seventh. Nicole Motycka started things off well with a lead-off
double to left-center. And after a perfect bunt by Schock, Michigan
had a runner on third with only one out. Hutchins brought in pinch
hitter Lauren Holland, who popped out to the pitcher. This left it
up to third-baseman Grace Leutele. Leutele battled to a 2-2 count
before watching the third strike, and the game, go by.

“We didn’t give ourselves a chance, and that’s
frustrating,” Hutchins said. “Of all the debacles that
happened in the game, I am most upset that we didn’t go down
swinging. If you didn’t like the pitch you have to fend it
off to give yourself a chance. So that was probably the most
disappointing part of the game. It would have been a big
win.”

The game ended up being the equivalent of the tournament final
because the other semifinal winner, Texas A&M, had to leave
Florida due to travel constraints.

Until the semifinal, Michigan (17-6) didn’t have any
trouble scoring runs. The Wolverines scored 39 runs in their first
five games (all wins), but couldn’t get anything started on
offense against Florida State.

“We played some teams, and beat them up pretty good. But
that’s what we needed to do,” Hutchins said. “But
against Florida State, they took advantage of our
mistakes.”

The Wolverines were led all weekend by their pitching and
defense. Jennie Ritter pitched 19.1 straight innings of scoreless
softball and threw a no-hitter against Notre Dame on Friday.

“I think that our pitching performance, Jennie Ritter in
particular, was outstanding,” Hutchins said. “And, of
course, our team played great defense behind her. You don’t
throw a no-hitter without great defense.

“I think it’s great that we gave up only two runs
all weekend. It shows right now that the strength of our team is in
our pitching — our pitching and our defense.”

Overall, Hutchins was pleased with the result of the
weekend.

“It was a good weekend for us,” Hutchins said.
“We got to get back into the curve of playing and I thought
we hit the ball well and hard. And we had great pitching. (Going)
5-1 is a good weekend. We just lost a tough game at the
end.”

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