In any game at an outdoor venue, wind plays a factor. In
softball, it holds home runs in and blows sure fly-outs into the
next zip code. Wind does not discriminate, so those who deal with
it best will come out on top. During yesterday’s doubleheader
in West Lafayette, Michigan junior Nicole Motycka showed that she
has the ability to adapt to rough conditions, both on the mound and
at the plate.

Michigan Softball
Michigan junior Nicole Motycka was the winning pitcher for Michigan twice this weekend and also earned her first save against Indiana on Friday. (SETH LOWER/Daily)

In the opening game against Purdue she sent a school-record
three shots over the outfield wall, anchoring the Wolverines’
record-setting six home run performance. No amount of wind was
going to take Motycka out of her zone. Prior to this weekend,
Motycka had hit just two home runs in her career, but
yesterday’s outburst did not seem to take her by

“I wasn’t surprised that I did well,” Motycka
said. “Sometimes you just have that feeling, but I
didn’t expect it to go out three times.”

After taking advantage of the wind while at the plate during the
first game, Motycka was determined to prevent the Boilermakers from
doing the same during the nightcap. Knowing Motycka’s typical
pitching style, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins was confident in
sending her out there.

“On a day like today, Nicole is the kind of pitcher we
want out there,” Hutchins said. “She keeps the ball
down so you are not going to hit the ball in the air as

Motycka pitched a five-hit shutout in the second game, the
Wolverines’ 15th shutout of the season. As Hutchins
suspected, Motycka controlled the Boilermaker hitters, forcing them
to ground out time after time.

“That’s always been part of my game, using the
ground,” Motycka said. “I use our infielders to get the
outs — I’ve never been a strikeout pitcher. I guess it
helps on windy days.”

This sort of double duty is nothing new to Motycka, who has
worked overtime all year. She is one of Michigan’s three
starting pitchers, and on what would be her off days, she serves as
the team’s designated player.

Through Sunday’s action, Motycka has compiled an 11-3
record, with a paper-thin 0.61 earned-run average. She sat out
several starts during the past few weeks with a leg injury but
bounced back to give up just one run in 15.1 innings of work this
weekend, including complete games both on Saturday at Bloomington
and yesterday against Purdue.

“I don’t know if (sitting out) really helped my leg
so much, or if it just helped me get rid of bad mechanics I had
because of my leg,” Motycka said

At the plate she has been one of the team’s most
consistent hitters, compiling a .309 batting average, while driving
in 12 runs and scoring 13. She has been responsible for nearly
twice as many runs on offense as she has given up in 80 innings on
the mound for Michigan.

Hutchins believes the key to Motycka’s success is her
well-founded self-assurance.

“Her greatest aspect is her confidence,” Hutchins
said. “She was confident, she was loose and she was having a
good time. I think it’s easier to play when you enjoy what
you are doing.”

As the Big Ten season continues at home against Ohio State and
Penn State, Motycka’s continued success on the mound will
play a large part in Michigan’s run for a Big Ten title and a
trip to the College World Series.

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