If defense wins championships, then the Michigan softball team
should buy its plane tickets to the NCAA World Series now.

Michigan Softball
Shortstop Jessica Merchant connects with the pitch. (MIKE HULSEBUS/Daily)

The No. 11 Wolverines (25-6 overall) had no errors and allowed
no runs in their double-header against Valparaiso (4-14) yesterday.
They came away from the weekend, behind strong pitching and
flawless defense, with two easy victories, 10-0, 7-0.

The Ritter sisters, Jennie (10-3) and Meghan (0-0), started
things off right for Michigan in front of a home crowd of 623. The
two of them combined to post a three-hit shutout in five innings of
work in the first game of the day. Jennie, a sophomore, started the
game and struck out seven in four innings, bringing her season
strikeout total to a team-leading 126 and lowering her ERA to 0.81.
The Wolverines built Jennie a 10-run lead before she turned it over
to her older sister Meghan, a senior. Meghan picked up right were
Jennie left off, allowing just one hit, and finished off the
Crusaders.

“We stayed ahead of the hitters, and I thought that Valpo
had a pretty good-swinging team,” Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins said. “They were aggressive and they made some good
contacts, even with (Jennie) Ritter. But it just shows what
we’re capable of.”

Freshman Lorilyn Wilson (6-0) took over in the second game and
had no problem keeping the Wolverines on top. She pitched a
complete game shutout for the fourth time in her short collegiate
career.

Wilson struggled Thursday against Bowling Green, giving up nine
hits and three earned runs.

But she was back to her normal form yesterday. The performance
lowered her ERA to 0.50, the best on the team.

“I pitched a lot better than Thursday,” Wilson said.
“I had a lot more control, and I got ahead of the batters
more often. And I didn’t walk anyone — that was
key.

“It sets the tone of the game — if the pitcher is
doing well, everyone else follows.”

Michigan’s defense has been strong all season, averaging
less than one error per game. But until recently, it has had
trouble producing runs. This weekend’s 17 runs went a long
way toward changing that. Hutchins was pleased with the
team’s production, but said that it needed to keep it up
throughout the season.

“We definitely have seen improvement, especially from the
bottom half of our order,” Hutchins said. “And
that’s something where we need to stay consistent.

“I feel we were aggressive, and I think that showed on the
scoreboard ultimately. We swung at the hittable pitches.”

The Wolverines have been hot as of late, winning 13 of their
last 14 games. With the exception of the Bowling Green 9-5 win last
week, they have not given up more than two runs in any of those
games.

Michigan moves into the Big Ten season next weekend when it
travels to Indiana and Purdue. Wilson said that yesterday’s
games against Valparaiso were a good warmup for the rest of the
year.

“Hutch says to play every game the same, and that’s
the attitude that we’re going to go into the Big Ten season
with,” Wilson said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *