With the Big Ten Tournament on the horizon, the Michigan
softball team prepared itself about as well as any team can: by
facing national power Florida State.

Michigan Softball
Michigan junior Jessica Merchant celebrates a double-header sweep of Florida State on Saturday as the Wolverines avenged an early season loss to the Seminoles. (TONY DING/Daily)

The No. 7 Michigan softball team wrapped up the regular season
with a sweep of the No. 2 Seminoles Saturday before 1,311 fans at
Alumni Field. With the wins, the Wolverines are playing confidently
heading into the post-season.

Michigan took game two in a low-scoring affair. Junior pitcher
Nicole Motykca dominated the Seminoles, tossing a three-hit
shutout.

Sophomore Stephanie Bercaw scored the game’s lone run on a
single by Angie Churchill in the bottom of the second inning.

Florida State pitcher Jess van der Linden provided offense and
defense for Florida State. Van der Linden had two of the
Seminoles’ three hits and gave up just four hits to the
Wolverines despite the loss.

“We had a much better approach in the second game,”
Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “All we want our kids to
do is have a good approach in every game.”

Saturday’s first game featured late-inning drama as the
Wolverines scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to beat the
visiting Seminoles 2-1. Florida State committed two costly errors
in the inning, and Seminole pitcher Casey Hunter walked-in Michigan
third baseman Grace Leutele with the bases loaded to give the
Wolverines the victory. Sophomore pitcher Jennie Ritter pitched
seven efficient innings and recorded the win.

“Obviously, we took advantage of some
opportunities,” Hutchins said. “We made things happen
for us.”

By defeating Florida State, the Wolverines avenged an early
season 1-0 loss to the Seminoles and gained valuable experience for
the upcoming Big Ten tournament in the process. Captain Meghan Doe
believed beating a top-ranked team a week before the Big Ten
tournament was an immeasurable confidence builder.

“The only thing that can prepare you for playing a good
team is playing another one,” the senior center fielder said.
“It was huge, and the fact that we were able to figure out
how to win was even more important.”

Hutchins also found the match-up to be valuable in preparation
for the upcoming week.

“It’s as good competition as you could possibly
get,” Hutchins said. “We were very fortunate that we
got (Florida State) to come up (to Ann Arbor) tonight. It was a
great softball atmosphere with two great softball teams.”

Michigan, the Big Ten regular-season champs, will host the
conference’s tournament beginning Thursday. Though the
weekend victories provided a worthwhile tune-up, the team still
knows it must come ready to play this upcoming week.

“We need to play our game, and focus on us and be
fearless,” Hutchins said. “We just need to
play.”

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