Last weekend, after the Michigan softball team came out hot in two wins, 5-1 and 7-5, over Big Ten rival Wisconsin, the rain began to fall, ending the series a game early and preventing a three-game sweep.

This weekend, hopefully, that won’t be the case.

The 22nd-ranked Wolverines (15-5 Big Ten, 36-15 overall) hope that doesn’t happen again when they face Purdue (13-7, 31-19) in a three-game homestand this weekend to end the regular season. The NCAA Regional begins May 18.

With this series being the last of the regular season, the weekend is about the seniors, as Saturday is “Senior Day”. The team will be honoring left-hander Hilary Payne, third baseman Stephanie Kirkpatrick, center-fielder Bree Evans, and first baseman Amanda Chidester.

Before the senior festivities begin, however, Michigan must look to the first game on Friday, where the Boilermakers will be the Wolverines’ hardest Big Ten test of the season.

The importance of the series cannot be overlooked. Michigan needs either two wins over Purdue or one win with an Iowa loss to clinch its 15th overall and fifth-consecutive Big Ten title.

It should be noted that no other program has ever won five consecutive titles.

But the Wolverines cannot get ahead of themselves.

If the Boilermakers sweep the series this weekend and Iowa loses then Purdue clinches the Big Ten title. In the grand scheme of things, though, if Purdue wins at least one game this weekend then it cannot end any lower than fourth in the conference.

As Michigan faces Purdue they will have to watch its potent offense. The Boilermakers have a .319 team batting average and have seven players hitting over .300. Senior shortstop Molly Garst leads the way at the plate with a .367 batting average.

The Wolverines have to keep an eye on the batters box — Purdue is third in the nation in triples per game, and once they get started, it is hard to stifle their momentum.

Meanwhile on the mound, all season Michigan has had dominating freshman pitching in the circle. Star left-hander Haylie Wagner leads the conference in ERA (1.55) and wins (27), but Purdue also has a freshman pitcher to boast of in Lexi Moore. She has a 20-10 record with a 3.27 ERA.

The series begins Friday at 6 p.m. at Alumni Field.

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