In the second game of the Michigan softball team’s home-opening doubleheader against Loyola Chicago, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins sent a Taylor to the mound to close out the game. Except it wasn’t All-American pitcher Jordan Taylor.
Sophomore walk-on Lauren Taylor took the mound to pitch the final inning of the Wolverines’ 13-0 rout. Her appearance marked the first time someone other than Nikki Nemitz or Jordan Taylor had stepped into the circle for the Wolverines in 91 games.
In Michigan’s 4-1 and 13-0 wins on Saturday every player on the roster entered the game.
Taylor allowed two hits but surrendered no runs in her first career inning.
“She deserved the opportunity,” Hutchins said. “She works very hard every day, and she does a lot to help our team win. She pitches to our hitters in practice a lot, and it was a good opportunity to give her a chance to get what she’s been working for.”
Not too long after fans returned to their seats at Alumni Field for the second game, the game was effectively over.
The scoreboard read 11-0 after the first inning. Some fans headed toward the exits before Michigan could take the field for the top of the second.
The Wolverines scored first-inning runs in both games of the doubleheader, and nine players collected hits. Despite Michigan’s recently streaky offensive production, the Wolverines (22-9) have scored in the first inning of 13 games.
“We’ve been working on that a lot in our practices, just getting ahead,” Nemitz said. “As a pitcher, it’s a great relief because you know your team is ready to play and is helping you out early.”
Freshman Amanda Chidester did the job in the first inning of the first game with a two-run home run.
Michigan exploded for 11 runs on eight hits in the first inning of the second game. The inning also included a stretch where 12 straight batters reached base safely.
With a 4-for-5 performance from the plate, Chidester could have left it at that and had a good day. But the utility player also showed her defensive prowess.
Playing catcher in the first game, Chidester made two dynamic plays. On a small foul pop up, she made the only play possible, a diving stab to her left to record the out.
With runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh, a slow roller came to Nemitz, who quickly sent it to Chidester.
Chidester caught the ball and lunged back to make the play at home, keeping the game out of reach.
Now, the Wolverines can focus on Big Ten play. With Michigan’s 0-2 start in conference play after two losses to Northwestern last weekend and the elimination of a conference tournament, regular season play is more important than in past years to determine postseason seeding. The Wolverines return to action Wednesday when they travel to Penn State.