Apparently the Michigan softball team thought it was playing baseball Tuesday night.
The two hour, 39 minute game took nine innings to complete, capped by the designated player rocking a walk-off two-run home run into the adjacent baseball stadium’s outfield to win the game.
It was freshman Sara Driesenga who stole the show, though, recording her only hit of the night when it mattered most.
Before Driesenga’s big hit, senior first baseman Amanda Chidester was walked to lead off the inning, and Michigan coach Carol Hutchins was prepared to have Driesenga — who hadn’t recorded a hit all night — lay a sacrifice bunt to advance Chidester to second base.
But Hutchins changed her mind.
“I wasn’t sure when (Chidester) got on if I was going to bunt to move her over, or if I was going to be able to hit,” Driesenga said. “But then (Hutchins) gave me the hitting sign, so I was going to be ready for the first pitch, and I was ready.”
This was the second time Driesenga hit a home run against Eastern Michigan — she went the distance when Michigan defeated the Eagles 10-2 in five innings on March 21.
Ever since that home opener, Driesenga has shined in the designated player position — the softball equivalent of a designated hitter — as she earned the spot permanently after the March 21 game. She’s increased her average to .373, which leads the team, and recently was moved to the clean-up slot, batting fourth in the lineup.
But earlier in last night’s game, Driesenga struggled with her at-bats, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. So she decided to switch her mindset in what would be her final plate appearance.
“I was just ready for the pitch, just keep my head up and see the ball cause I didn’t really do that before,” Driesenga said. “Just stay relaxed and always just watch the ball. That’s all I try to do.”
Hutchins had a different plan.
“I told her if they were gonna sit back like they had been sitting — I had been dying to bunt all day — that we may just bunt,” Hutchins said. “You know a kid can put out, but you just don’t plan on it. But we gave it a pitch—I actually expected them to throw a pitch down in the dirt like they had been, that’s why I didn’t call anything.
“(Driesenga) hadn’t been happy with some of her previous at-bats. And you noticed — she took it out on the ball.”