The Michigan women’s softball team is spending its spring break in the Sunshine State.

The squad finished its third-straight weekend of warm-weather play, going 3-2 in the NFCA Leadoff Classic at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. The 12th-ranked Wolverines beat Illinois State on Friday, Hofstra on Saturday and ended the tournament with a 3-1 victory over Mississippi State on Sunday.

In the bottom of the fourth against the Bulldogs, sophomore catcher Caitlin Blanchard batted in a run while an error by Mississippi State brought in another for Michigan. The Bulldogs answered with a run of their own in the top of the fifth, but the Wolverines sealed the win as freshman pitcher Sara Driesenga picked up the first save this season for Michigan.

Fellow freshman Haylie Wagner earned her seventh win of the season against Mississippi State before Driesenga replaced her in the top of the fifth. The lefty picked up two other wins on the weekend weekend against Illinois State and Hofstra.

But Wagner needed help from her teammate, senior outfielder Bree Evans, against Hofstra. The Pride tied the game at two in the top of the seventh on a wild pitch and a walk, but Evans sealed the game with a walk-off RBI double to score junior pinch runner Jaclyn Crummey from second.

“(The highlight of the weekend was) probably the walk-off against Hofstra,” Wagner said. “Coming in (to pitch) in the last inning with bases loaded no outs, and (for the team) to come back in the bottom of the seventh (was energizing). And then Bree hits the walk-off.

“It was a great feeling knowing we can get through anything.”

But the Wolverines (11-3) didn’t have a perfect weekend, dropping two games. Massachusetts beat Michigan on Friday in a 1-0 pitching duel. The Minutemen scored the decisive run in the top of the fourth on two hits off of Driesenga.

And on Saturday, Michigan faced what Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said was the team’s toughest competition to date: No. 17 Louisiana-Lafayette.

Hutchins knew the Ragin’ Cajuns were a powerful hitting team, and they performed no differently. They came out swinging, knocking in four runs on four hits in the top of the first. The Wolverines responded with three runs of their own in the third.

The two teams traded runs, but Michigan’s hitting couldn’t pull through late in the game, coming up empty in the last three innings.

“Louisiana-Lafayette is the best team we’ve seen,” Hutchins said. “I think it’s one of the best teams they’ve had. They were extremely athletic and very aggressive, and in that game I thought our defense let us down.

“We didn’t play defense. Our errors cost us the game. Too many errors, too many misplayed balls. We need to play defense, that’s the bottom line.”

Despite the lack of defense in that Saturday night matchup, Hutchins was still impressed with both of her freshmen pitchers.

“We brought (Wagner and Driesenga) here to help us win, and that’s what they’re doing,” Hutchins said. “They’re just doing their part. They’ve done a nice job of picking each other up — they both had to come in and save each other, and I think they work very well together.”

The duo of Wagner and Driesenga has continually been promising for the Wolverines, as both freshmen have shown early success against tough opponents. Each pitcher was rewarded with Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors. Wagner was also named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week last week.

The team faces South Florida on Wednesday in Tampa before traveling to Lake Buena Vista, Fla. for the Citrus Classic.

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