MADISON – Top of the seventh inning.
A scoreless tie.
Iowa shortstop Stacy May dug her spikes into the batter’s box to take her hacks at Michigan ace Jennie Ritter.
That one swing was all it took for Iowa to upset No. 12 Michigan (6-2 Big Ten, 27-11 overall) on Saturday. Hawkeye hurler Brittany Weil allowed just one hit and struck out six to shut out the Wolverines at Pearl Field. Yesterday, Michigan’s scheduled doubleheader against Wisconsin was cancelled less than three innings into the first game due to inclement weather.
“(Weil) really did pitch well,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “We didn’t do a good enough job of making her pitch to us. We hit her pitches.”
Michigan had a chance to extend the game – or possibly win it – in the bottom of the seventh. First baseman Samantha Findlay reached first base after being hit by a pitch, and catcher Becky Marx’s sacrifice advanced Findlay to second.
But Weil quickly snuffed out the rally, inducing Michigan third baseman Grace Leutele to pop out to the shortstop, then striking out rightfielder Stephanie Bercaw to seal the victory for Iowa (5-3, 27-15).
Junior pitcher Lorilyn Wilson started for the Wolverines, but she failed to match Weil’s brilliance. Wilson danced in and out of trouble for 3 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and recording four big strikeouts.
With runners on second and third and two down in the top of the first, the junior overpowered Iowa’s Summer Downs to avoid trouble.
Wilson escaped an even tighter jam in the third inning after a single and an error gave the Hawkeye runners on second and third with nobody out. The Salem, Ore., native turned up the intensity, sending Mindy Heidgerken back to the dugout after looking at strike three. Iowa shortstop Emily Nichols then popped out, and Wilson retired Hawkeye third baseman Erin Riemersma on a ground ball to Leutele to once again dodge a bullet.
Although Wilson kept Iowa off the scoreboard, Hutchins could see that the pitcher wasn’t throwing her best stuff, and, with one out in the fourth and a runner on second, she made the switch to Ritter.
“(Wilson) was getting behind in the count, and her pitches weren’t working very well,” Hutchins said. “She didn’t have any velocity on the ball.”
Ritter struck out Steph Ackerson with two outs and runners at the corners to end the fourth and silence another Iowa threat. Friday’s game, a 3-0 win for Michigan, was like Saturday’s contest in reverse. The Wolverines jumped out to an early lead thanks to Weil’s control problems, and then rode Ritter’s arm to victory.
A one-out double by centerfielder Alessandra Giampaolo put the Wolverines in business in the first inning. After a wild pitch allowed the sophomore to reach third, Weil walked Findlay and Marx to load the bases.
The inning didn’t get any prettier. All three runners moved up a base on another wild pitch, with Giampaolo scoring the game’s first run. Leutele followed with a walk to reload the bases, and Bercaw got drilled with a pitch to force in another Michigan run. A two-out single from leftfielder Rebekah Milian drove in the final run of the inning and the game.
Ritter silenced the Iowa bats in dominating fashion. The reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week struck out 11 and allowed just two hits for the shutout win.
After jumping out to an early lead, the Wolverines failed to notch another run the entire weekend, something that did not escape Hutchins’s attention.
“We didn’t score since the first inning on Friday,” Hutchins said. “Our kids need to just do what they are capable of and not try to do anything else.”