Shortstop Jessica Merchant’s home run could not have come
at a better time for the Wolverines on Saturday. Tied 0-0 in the
top of the seventh inning, Merchant smacked the first pitch she saw
over the left-field fence. The single run proved to be all Michigan
needed to complete its doubleheader sweep of Ohio State this
weekend.

Although Merchant knew she was just one home run away from
Michigan’s single-season home run record, the junior
wasn’t thinking about personal fame when she walked up to the
plate in the seventh inning.

“I was thinking that (junior) Nicole Motycka pitched an
amazing game and she deserves a run,” Merchant said.
“We had to get a run no matter how we did it. She deserved to
win that ball game, and she did.”

The shortstop’s home run in Michigan’s 1-0 victory
against the Buckeyes was her 13th of the season, tying her for
first place on Michigan’s all-time single-season home run
leader board. She shares this record with Melissa Gentile
(’98) and Marissa Young (’03).

“It feels alright,” Merchant said. “It feels
better to beat Ohio State twice and stay undefeated in the Big
Ten.”

Merchant has compiled 23 career home runs, putting her in second
place behind Gentile on the Wolverine’s career home run list.
Merchant is now just five home runs shy of having a share of the
record.

“It’s an honor, actually,” Merchant said.
“Gentile and Young are some of the greatest hitters who have
come here. But I’ve got more important things to worry about
than the home run record, like the Big Ten
(championship).”

Michigan coach Carol Hutchins echoed Merchant’s selfless
sentiments about the said. “Gentile and Young are some of the
greatest hitters who have come here. But I’ve got more
important things to worry about than the home run record, like the
Big Ten (championship).”

Michigan coach Carol Hutchins echoed Merchant’s selfless
sentiments.

“I’m not really impressed by records,”
Hutchins said. “It’s most important that (Merchant)
does not get caught up in records or home runs. More than anything,
the key to beating teams is getting base runners on base. She will
hit her share (of home runs this year) because she is
capable.”

Though she called sharing the record an “honor,”
Merchant said she was most pleased that she was able to influence
the outcome of an important Big Ten game.

“I try to help us win every single day whether it’s
on defense or offense,” Merchant said. “Today (my home
run) ended up working out for us.”

Merchant’s hitting was also key in Michigan’s 7-0
rout against Penn State in the first game of yesterday’s
double header. Hitting fifth in the batting order, Merchant was
responsible for four of the Wolverines’ runs. She drove in
three runs off of three singles and scored a run herself in the
fifth inning.

Hutchins explained that she will only worry about records such
as Merchant’s when she retires.

“(Merchant) should be proud that we won and that she was
part of it,” Hutchins said.

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