MINNEAPOLIS — Whether it was a pressure situation or a game in which she was pitching with a big lead, sophomore pitcher Lorilyn Wilson rose to the challenge this weekend for the No. 1 Michigan softball team.
“I try to focus on every pitch and throw my best game (regardless of the circumstances),” Wilson said.
After junior Jennie Ritter shut down Minnesota’s offense in the first game on Sunday, Wilson followed with a complete game one-hitter in Michigan’s 11-0 victory — a perfect exclamation mark for the weekend.
In the first inning, Stephanie Sward started the game for the Gophers with a slap hit that died along the third-base line. But Wilson got the next two Gophers to fly out and then struck out Rachel Keeney to end the inning.
Over the remaining four innings of the game, Wilson threw first-pitch strikes and stayed ahead of Minnesota’s hitters while never allowing another one of the Gophers to reach base.
“On Sunday, I wasn’t that great accuracy-wise, but I was still good enough to give our team a chance to win,” Wilson said. “That was good.”
Even though Wilson pitched with a large lead on Sunday, she came into a 2-2 game on Friday night against Wisconsin. When Ritter gave up two consecutive hits in the bottom of the seventh inning, Wilson stepped into the pitcher’s circle with the intention of sending the game into extra innings by shutting down the Badgers’ offense. Facing Natalie Phillips with runners on first and second and one out, Wilson picked up a strikeout and then got the next Badger hitter to fly out to sophomore Rebekah Milian.
After the Wolverines scored a run in the top of the eighth inning, Wilson faced the top of the order for Wisconsin. Samantha Polito led off for Wisconsin and hit a slow-rolling ground ball down the first-base line, and Wilson scooped it up to make the play at first. Wilson then struck out Katie Hnatyk looking at an outside fastball and got Kris Zacher to swing at a fastball over her head to preserve the 3-2 Michigan victory.
Although Wilson lost a one-run decision against Central Michigan on Wednesday, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins had faith that Wilson could finish Friday night’s win.
“In this game, you have to go with percentages and you got to believe that your kids can do their part,” Hutchins said. “If she doesn’t get it done, we don’t win. That’s the bottom line. You play your game, and you make it work. If we have to rely on luck, then we don’t deserve to win.”
Then, on Saturday, Wilson started for the Wolverines and set the tone in the first inning by striking out the first batter and getting the Badgers to go down one-two-three.
The Michigan offense provided a healthy lead for Wilson by scoring three runs in the third and fourth innings. But after surrendering a lead-off single in the top of the fourth inning, Wilson never let the Badgers’ hitters reach first base again. She continually stayed ahead of Wisconsin’s hitters and finished them off with great movement on her assortment of pitches.
“Lorilyn really only threw one bad pitch (on Saturday),” Hutchins said. “She just moved the ball through the zone and stayed ahead of the Wisconsin hitters most of the time. She was 1-2 and 0-2 a lot in the first four innings or so. If she gets ahead of hitters, she’s going to beat them.”
Over the span of three days, Wilson totaled three wins to improve her record to 18-2, and she recorded 14 strikeouts while only allowing two hits in 12 and two-thirds of an inning of work.