At this time last year, the Michigan softball team breezed its way through NCAA Regionals, outscoring its three opponents 31-4.

This weekend, the Wolverines will take the field in Ann Arbor once again, and with the same goal in mind: win two games this weekend to advance to the NCAA Super Regional.

“We just have to show up and play,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “Because everyone else is going to show up and play.”

No. 2 Michigan welcomes three teams to the Ann Arbor Regional, which starts Friday night. Notre Dame (19-1 Big East, 41-9 overall) — the Big East regular-season title winner — will face off against Kentucky in game one of this weekend’s post-season series. The Wolverines (18-2 Big Ten, 51-4) will follow with a matchup against in-state rival Western Michigan.

The NCAA Regionals will continue at Alumni Field through the weekend, with games scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. The winner of the double-elimination series will head to the NCAA Super Regionals May 27-28.

If Michigan takes this weekend’s series, it will host Super Regionals in Ann Arbor as well.

But the Wolverines have to get there first.

Hutchins, who was just awarded her 11th Big Ten Coach of the Year award, plans on using Michigan ace Jordan Taylor to help lead the Wolverines through their 17th post-season appearance. The senior pitcher (29-3) has tossed 216 innings this season, and looks to make her collegiate career come full circle.

Taylor’s past two seasons were strongly out-shined by her rookie season — pitching a 0.76 ERA for a record of 31-4 earned Taylor All-American honors after just one season as a Wolverine.

Now, during her senior season, she is well on her way to besting her personal record.

Michigan comes into this weekend with wins already under its belt this season against the Broncos (14-6 MAC, 22-28) and the Fighting Irish.

“It’s good to know a little bit about your opponent,” senior first baseman Dorian Shaw said. “And they know a little about us, but I like to think that if you execute and do what you’re supposed to do, no matter what the other team knows about you, you can still win.”

Despite being the only team in NCAA post-season play to enter Regionals with a losing record, Western Michigan is still reveling in a historic end to its regular season.

The Broncos claimed both regular- and post-season MAC titles for the first time in program history. Pitcher Meredith Whitney controls the mound for Western Michigan, entering this weekend with a 17-13 record and 173 strikeouts on the season. But the last time Whitney faced the Wolverines, she was matched up against sophomore pitcher Stephanie Speierman – not Taylor.

Michigan has ousted Notre Dame from the Regionals bracket for the past three seasons and looks to do the same this weekend. But the Fighting Irish have an ace of their own in freshman Laura Winter.

Although Winter has a 2.22 ERA, she has just three losses on the season herself (24-3). She is backed up by a solid offense with a .515 slugging percentage, led by Alexa Maldonado.

“We played Notre Dame earlier, and that ended up not being as close of a game as we thought,” Shaw said. “But Notre Dame always comes and plays hard against us. They’re always a talented team. They’ve been having a really great season.”

The Wildcats will look to down Notre Dame first, before Michigan takes the dirt against either team. Kentucky (14-9 SEC, 36-14) won a program record of 36 games this season, and comes into this weekend’s NCAA series having faced none of the other three teams in 2011.

But a mid-season sweep of No. 3 Florida and winning record in the most competitive Division-I softball conference could enable the Wildcats to surprise this weekend.

“We played Kentucky last year for a series and they were tough,” Hutchins said. “You don’t play in the SEC without being tough.”

A line formed for tickets to the games earlier this week after the tournament schedule was announced, and even ESPN will be at Alumni Field on Friday to broadcast from Ann Arbor.

The Wolverines head into their 10th straight NCAA Regionals held at home this weekend, looking to continue their journey on the road to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

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