It was all about the rebound bouncing back with confidence and high spirits after a mistake or even a poorly played game. Last weekend in the softball Big Ten Tournament, Iowa did just that by upstaging No. 21 Michigan the regular season conference champions in the final game Saturday in Ann Arbor.
After winning over the 15th-ranked Hawkeyes 6-1 Friday, Michigan opened the championship game with control of the scoreboard. Stefanie Volpe scored for the Wolverines on Melinda Moulden”s only hit of the game in the first inning.
“We did a very good job in the beginning with keeping control when Michigan had a lot of momentum and not letting an inning get away from us,” Iowa coach Gayle Blevins said.
Iowa tied the game in the fifth and then closed the book 2-1 in the sixth when Jessica Bashor”s grounder drove in Melissa Stuber for the championship-winning run.
Michigan needs to rebound from Saturday”s loss this week when they head to regionals in Tuscaloosa, Ala. to face Chattanooga.
The teams went head-to-head with solid pitching, no errors and seven hits apiece. Michigan stuck to its sharp defense and made good contact all afternoon, but it was Iowa that responded well and adjusted after every tough play.
The Hawkeyes opened the game with Sara Thompson pitching, leaving their star hurler Kristi Hanks on the bench to mentally prepare.
“In the fist inning, we had a chance to hit some runs, and we told the kids, totally expecting Thompson to come out, to try to hit the ball in the opposite field,” said Michigan coach and Big Ten Coach of the Year Carol Hutchins. “We did, but we couldn”t get it past Kristin Johnson.”
Johnson, at shortstop, dove for balls all afternoon and wasted no time in picking up every ball that came her way. By the third inning, Iowa”s Kristi Hanks had fed off Johnson”s accuracy and relieved Thompson in the circle.
Friday, Michigan scored in the first inning when Monica Schock hit a grounder to first. Attempting the doubleplay, firstbaseman Alicia Gerlach overthrew to second base, and Kollen scored the run.
Three more runs came in the fourth when Marissa Young knocked Rebecca Tune in from first, and Kim Bugel hit her first career homerun. Then in the fifth, Schock and Moulden knocked in Kollen and Taylor to take the game, 6-1.
Thursday, Michigan beat Penn State 2-0 by capitalizing on the Nittnay Lions” only error in the second inning. Young grounded straight to pitcher Marissa Hanson, but Hanson overthrew to first, allowing Mary Connor and Moulden to score.