WEST LAFAYETTE — The Michigan softball team looked
like it was competing in a home run derby this weekend, and
Michigan’s Nicole Motycka was starting to look a lot like
Shawn Green.

She isn’t 200 pounds, and she can’t sport the goatee
like Green can. But, going three-for-three with three home runs is
something that only a handful of players can do.

In the first game of yesterday’s softball doubleheader
against Purdue, Motycka hit three jacks and had five RBI. Her
performance led the Wolverines to a 9-0 victory.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Motycka said.
“Some days you are just on. You are seeing the ball and there
is nothing that’s going to stop you from hitting it. I
couldn’t tell you why.”

Michigan coach Carol Hutchins thought that the weather had
something to do with the team’s prolific hitting.

“The wind was really blowing out, so we hit a few up
there,” Hutchins said. “I think that some (balls) were
really well hit, and some just got up in the jet stream and just
carried. I thought that our kids were just swinging their bats,
and, when they swing, things will happen.”

Motycka wasn’t the only one who was getting a piece of
Purdue’s Diana LaRiva

She led the way, but two other Wolverines also had shots that
cleared the fence. Grace Leutele went two-for-three with two home
runs and four RBI.

“She was just swinging well,” Hutchins said.
“She was ready. She was ready for the outside pitch when they
threw it and ready for the inside pitch when they threw
it.”

Jessica Merchant had just one hit, but it was also a homerun
— her team-leading 12th of the season. All nine of
Michigan’s runs came off of home runs.

“We hit the ball really well today, which is good,”
Merchant said. “I think that we were consistent throughout
the lineup — everyone hit well. That’s always a
positive, especially in the Big Ten season.”

The weekend marked the beginning of the Big Ten season for the
Wolverines, and they certainly got off to a good start. The
Wolverines (4-0 Big Ten, 29-6 overall) won all four of their games
this weekend against strong teams. Coming into the weekend, Purdue
(0-2, 22-12) had the second-best overall record in the Big Ten,
behind Michigan.

Hitting, or lack thereof, was the theme for the Boilermakers as
well. They are batting .278 as a team this season, but
couldn’t get anything started this weekend. In the first game
of the doubleheader, sophomore pitcher Jennie Ritter and freshman
closer Lorylin Wilson held Purdue to no runs on just three
hits.

And it wasn’t much better the second time around. Motycka,
who pitched the second game, also pitched a shutout. She allowed
just three hits, and all of them came in the fifth inning or
later.

For the Wolverines, it was more important to have strong
pitching in the second game because they were not able to continue
the offensive slugfest throughout the rest of the day.

Purdue’s freshman pitcher Brooke Baker pitched a strong
game and held the Wolverines to just two runs.

“Brooke Baker was the difference,” Hutchins said.
“She did a nice job of keeping us off balance and working us
in and out and throwing in her change. She did not let us dig in on
her as much (LaRiva).”

Michigan still won the second game of the doubleheader, 2-0, but
the Wolverines had a couple of scares late in the game.

“I’m always worried,” Hutchins said.

“Obviously, when you only have two runs on the board, one
key hit can make the difference in the game. So I just want our
offense to get a few more runs on the board. But our defense is our
strength no matter what. No matter what we do on offense, our
defense is our strength.”

Michigan does not play again until next weekend, when the
Wolverines stay at home and take on Ohio State and Penn State at
Alumni Field.

Merchant said that the week off will give the Wolverines a
chance to prepare for the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions. She
thinks that the Wolverines will be able to fix the few mistakes
that they had this weekend.

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