Freshman pitcher Jordan Taylor isn’t waiting to make her presence known on campus.
On Saturday, the No. 5 Michigan softball team defeated Iowa 3-0 behind Taylor’s 14 strikeouts. The freshman fanned the first seven batters she faced.
Against Illinois a day later, Taylor had an identical showing, recording a 5-0 win to cap two Wolverine shutouts against the Fighting Illini.
“Let’s just say that we need consistent performances from everybody in our lineup, whether they’re pitching, hitting or catching,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “And I’m very pleased with her consistency this weekend.”
As the weekend progressed, the entire Michigan squad rebounded from a shaky start on a dreary Friday afternoon. Right out of the gate, the Wolverines struggled to field and pitch early, giving up their only two runs in the first inning of the first game. The bats also failed to string together hits, tallying just one run late in the 2-1 loss.
But there were no signs of Friday’s troubles on Saturday. The Wolverine offense produced all of its five hits and three runs in Michigan’s first three innings Saturday.
And that was all Taylor needed.
With her change-up and curve ball effective the entire weekend, the freshman fanned at least one batter each inning. Working with coaches during practice to refocus her control, Taylor was ahead in the count against most Hawkeyes in the 3-0 victory.
“We had a lead and her job was really just to hold it,” Hutchins said Saturday. “And again, we don’t need her to over pitch, just do your job and let her defense help. But I just felt she was pretty calm and composed and I was very pleased with that.”
Taylor was just as composed Sunday, once again striking out the first seven batters she faced. The Valencia, Calif., native hasn’t let up a run in 39.1 innings.
Though most of the focus was on Taylor, sophomore Nikki Nemitz put up strong numbers in two games on the weekend. After surrendering a home run in the opening loss, Nemitz went on to allow just six hits in the two contests.
But Michigan didn’t make it out of the weekend unscathed, losing shortstop Teddi Ewing to a leg injury. The Olathe, Kan., native left the game for stitches when Illinois’s Lana Armstrong was caught stealing second but cleated Ewing deep in her leg.
It was after she left that the Wolverine offense exploded. Michigan posted eight runs in the mercy-rule victory.
“It stunk to lose Teddi, but it shows great character because we came back and played for her,” Viefhaus said. “And I think we came out stronger. We need her, but it shows that we can really play for our teammates.”
Hutchins said she wants to see her players hit the ball outside the infield more, but thinks her club is in good shape after winning the weekend’s final three games. praised the team’s resiliency, which she said reminds her of 2005’s National Championship team.
“What my team in ’05 did well and what this year’s team does equally well is that we respond, and even though I thought we took a little long to respond yesterday, we had every opportunity to win that game. We were never out of the game and my kids never quit,” Hutchins said. “I’ll take that quality any day.”