To many, 13 is seen as an unlucky number. Don’t tell that to the No. 20 Michigan softball team, which opened up Big Ten play this weekend with a three-game sweep of Penn State.

Freshman pitcher Haylie Wagner concluded the series by pitching her 13th complete game of the year, with the support of a season-high 13 hits. The 6-0 victory marked the 13th-consecutive victory for the Wolverines over Penn State (0-3 Big Ten, 7-18 overall).

Michigan (3-0 Big Ten, 21-9 overall) won its 11th- and 12th-consecutive games against the Nittany Lions after winning both ends of Saturday’s doubleheader, 11-2 and 12-4.

The scoring for the Wolverines started in the bottom of the third by freshman designated-hitter Sara Driesenga, who singled in sophomore right fielder Lyndsay Doyle from third base. Doyle began the inning for Michigan with a single after working the at-bat to a full count.

After scoring another run in the fourth inning to make the score 2-0, the Wolverines tallied a pair of runs in the fifth inning via a two-run double by sophomore left fielder Nicole Sappingfield. Sappingfield finished 3-of-4 for the day.

Michigan concluded the scoring for the day in the sixth inning when junior shortshop Amy Knapp crushed her second home run of the season to deep right field. The hit landed halfway up the right-field bleachers and traveled an estimated 260 feet, according to Michigan coach Carol Hutchins.

Hutchins was impressed by the perseverance displayed by Knapp, who was replaced but reinserted into the game due to the rule allowing one starter per team to re-enter the game.

“I pinch hit for her, and she didn’t hold her head,” Hutchins said.

Perseverance is a trait that Hutchins believes the team possesses.

“It’s tough to play a team three times and beat them all three,” Hutchins said. “We had to persevere and we persevered throughout this game.”

Freshman pitcher Haylie Wagner progressed as the weekend series progressed. After going the distance in Michigan’s first game, which was shortened to five innings due to the mercy rule, Wagner relieved freshman pitcher Sara Driesenga after three innings in Saturday’s second game. Hutchins said Driesenga “threw a couple fat pitches that (Penn State) hit well,” and as a result, she was yanked after three innings.

Driesenga started the inning by giving up a leadoff walk to the Nittany Lions. After junior second baseman Ashley Lane made an error, pitching coach Bonnie Tholl, freshman catcher Lauren Sweet and Driesenga met at the mound in an attempt to calm the pitcher down. The aftermath of the meeting was not what Hutchins wanted. Driesenga went on to walk the next batter to load the bases and then gave up a two-run double to sophomore catcher Kasie Hatfield, making the score 5-2.

Hutchins had to pull the plug.

“When the bullpen comes in the game, it’s their job to stop the bleeding,” Hutchins said.

This was exactly what Wagner did.

Though Wagner was able to get out of the jam and earn the win in the mercy-rule-shortened game, she did not appear as sharp as she has been. However, her performance on Sunday was at that level.

“She seemed a little bit more relaxed,” Hutchins said. “Haylie really came back.”

The Wolverines’ patience at the plate was key for Michigan over the weekend. In the three-game set, Michigan drew 20 walks, including 10 in one of Saturday’s games.

“Quality at-bats are the reason we get runs,” Hutchins said. “We are trying to gain momentum in quality at-bats.”

The Wolverines’ play this weekend showed the potential the team has.

“We’re approaching it like we should have been approaching it the whole year,” said senior centerfielder Bree Evans.

Something that Hutchins was reminded of this weekend was the 2005 championship team’s motto: “When the bottom of the order comes through, championships are won.”

Hutchins knows her team is a very capable one. She envisions a three-tool team — good pitching, good defense and hitting hittable pitches.

“You have to be consistent in all those categories to have a chance to achieve any of our goals,” Hutchins said.

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