After sweeping a four-game tournament last weekend, the No. 11 Michigan softball team looks to maintain its perfect record in this weekend’s Florida Atlantic Kickoff Classic.
The Wolverines will play five games between Friday and Sunday, including a pair of doubleheaders. After games against Maryland and Long Island on Friday and No. 22 Kentucky and Florida Atlantic on Saturday, the team will conclude the weekend’s tournament with a matchup against Wright State.
A major reason for Michigan’s 4-0 start is senior third baseman Amanda Chidester. Through four games, Chidester has hit two home runs, tying her with sophomore first baseman Taylor Hasselbach for the team lead.
“I don’t need to get all the hits and big hits,” Chidester said.
Her first home run of the year was a walk-off to defeat then-No. 22 LSU, 2-1.
This weekend’s tournament is headlined by a matchup with No. 22 Kentucky, which upset and eliminated Michigan in last year’s NCAA tournament. As much of a disappointment as that was, the Wolverines will look to avenge their early exit.
Though Kentucky, is ranked while Michigan’s other four opponents are not, the team’s mentality will not differ as they play each game.
“Everyone competes to play,” Chidester said. “It’s just a number out there. It’s not something we really look towards.”
Something the Wolverines will look toward this weekend will be the performance of freshman pitcher Sara Driesenga, who is coming off of a two-win weekend, highlighted by a no-hitter through five innings that earned her Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.
Lost in Driesenga’s dazzling pitching display last week was the stellar defense behind her. Through Driesenga’s two outings, spanning 11 innings, she has just tallied two strikeouts.
“The coaches tell her all the time, ‘Let the defense help you,’” said senior centerfielder Bree Evans. “We have a really good defense this year.”
Despite the fact that the season is very young, the team’s goals are already set.
“We hope for the same things,” said Evans. “We hope to win the Big Ten like we have been and we hope to make to the World Series and have a shot for the national championship.”