For the first time since the 2009-10 season the Michigan women’s softball team lost an away game.
In a disappointing showing on Wednesday night, the 16th-ranked Wolverines (11-4 overall) were unable to find their offense in a 2-0 loss to USF (11-2).
“Our offense is letting us down and we’re not managing the strike zone at all,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “We’re really not controlling the things that we can control.”
Despite the game ending in defeat, the night began with promise, as freshmen left-hander Haylie Wagner took her previously unblemished record of 7-0 to the mound and did not allow a hit in the first two innings.
“I was overall happy with today’s pitching,” Wagner said. “I thought I hit my spots well and throughout the game I kept it up and everything felt right, but at the same time I really need to work on my outside pitches more. My goal is to command the zone better and take control when I’m in the circle.”
Like the pitching, the Wolverines’ offense started off well, but was unable to gain momentum.
In the first inning, Michigan loaded the bases but was unable to capitalize. The only other scoring opportunity the Wolverines had was in the fifth inning when sophomore outfielder Lyndsay Doyle tried to score from second base, but was called out at the plate.
“Nobody is really stepping up to give us a spark and a lift during the game,” Hutchins said. “Although we had a couple opportunities going on I don’t feel like we are rallying around anything.”
The Bulls also struggled to find a spark, but were able to make the most of Wagner’s few mistakes. In the third inning, USF led off with a bunt single. A sacrifice bunt from the next batter put the Bulls in scoring position, which allowed a single up the middle and the first run of the night. An inning later, USF scored their second run after a leadoff triple.
With little time before Friday when Michigan faces two ranked opponents in No. 14 UCLA and No. 19 Auburn there is not time to rest.
“Our goal is to manage the strike zone better and narrow our focus,” Hutchins said. “We need to rally.”