The No. 11 Michigan softball team has struggled offensively in
the bottom half of its order of late. In Michigan’s win
against St. Louis on March 20, batters five through nine only
managed two hits out of 11 at-bats. After last weekend, though, it
became clear that all the Wolverines needed was some kind of
‘shock’ to get them out of their slump. Enter senior
Monica Schock.

“We need Monica Schock to hit the way she is capable for
us to have a chance to get after that Big Ten
(championship),” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said.

Michigan’s starting catcher had a field day in a
doubleheader against Valparaiso on Sunday, hitting out of the
seventh spot. She hit 1-for-2 in game one and 2-for-3 in game two.
Schock also tallied a season-high three RBIs in Michigan’s
7-0 win in game two.

Though Schock’s hitting performance in the first game was
nothing to be ashamed of, Hutchins told Schock she needed to step
it up in the second contest.

“In the first game, Coach said I had a lazy swing,”
Schock said. “I’ve tried to work on some things. So in
the second game, I was just more aggressive and took my
cuts.”

In practice, Schock said that she has been working on getting
out in front of pitches instead of waiting for the ball to get in
on her hands.

“Before the (second) game, I told (Schock),
‘It’s time. Get up there, and get mean,’ ”
Hutchins said. “And she did. I was very pleased with that.
She did respond (after) I chewed on her a little before that
game.”

Schock’s “response” came almost immediately in
the second game. She drove in Michigan’s first run of the
game with a two-out double.

“If I think about situations, or if there are runners on
base, I get really nervous,” Schock admitted. “So I
just try to go up there and not think about anything too
much.”

Hutchins said that Schock’s biggest strength is that she
is a “pure hitter” with great hand-eye
coordination.

“She needs to let herself stay out of her way and allow
herself to be the hitter she is capable of,” Hutchins
said.

Besides Schock’s offensive prowess this weekend, the other
Michigan hitters in the bottom half of the order seemed to be
getting out of their recent slumps.

Batting sixth as the designated hitter in both games, junior
Nicole Motycka went 4-for-6 with three runs scored and three
RBIs.

Hutchins had been frustrated with the team’s hitting
performance at the Louisville Invitational two weekends ago,
especially with the bottom half of the lineup. But the coach was
impressed with the offense on Sunday.

“I felt the bottom half of the order has definitely
stepped up,” Hutchins said. “That’s what we need
to have happen consistently going into the Big Ten
season.”

Hutchins said that the girls have been continually working on
their hitting in practice, especially in terms of being more
aggressive and making consistent contact.

“There’s no trick to it,” Hutchins said.
“The one thing we did well (on Sunday) was that we swung. We
were aggressive, and we didn’t take a lot of
pitches.”

Michigan will face Indiana on Friday and Saturday in
Bloomington.

Hutchins believes the formula for offensive success is simple
— limit the number of strikes that go by.

“If you don’t swing, you can’t hit,”
Hutchins said.

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