The Michigan softball team has certainly witnessed its defense
winning games.

Sophomore Jennie Ritter threw a no-hitter in Michigan’s
3-0 win against Notre Dame last Friday. The only blemish between
her and a perfect game was hitting a batter in the seventh inning.
She is just the 12th pitcher in Michigan history to achieve this
feat.

Ritter’s nearly flawless performance will go down in the
books as the 20th no-hitter in Michigan softball history and the
first since Marissa Young’s perfect game on Feb. 16,
2002.

“She was outstanding,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins
said. “In general, she is getting ahead of hitters, throwing
with a lot of confidence and keeping us in the games.”

By the end of the Notre Dame game, Ritter had struck out 34
hitters over her last 20 innings without walking or hitting a
batter.

“(Ritter) has the ability to dominate a hitter,”
Hutchins said. “She is a strikeout pitcher, and the greatest
defense is a strikeout.”

Registering a staggering total of 93 strikeouts in 12
appearances in the 2004 campaign, Ritter’s domination on the
mound has translated into three shutouts, and a current personal
record of 6-3.

In addition to Michigan’s strong pitching, tight defense
contributed to the Wolverines’ wins over Notre Dame, Georgia
State, Troy State, Maryland and Florida A&M at the Florida
State Invitational. Ritter posted two shutout performances at the
tournament: one against the Fighting Irish and another against Troy
State.

Consistent defensive play also kept No. 11 Michigan in a close
game against No. 5 Florida State in the Gold Bracket championship
game, but the Wolverines fell just short in a 1-0 loss. Michigan
went 5-1 in the invitational.

“You can’t throw a no-hitter without a great defense
behind you,” Hutchins said.

The Wolverine defense only gave up two total runs in all six
games at the most recent invitational. At this point in the season,
Michigan’s strength is in its pitching and defense. But
Hutchins does not feel that the defense has reached its full
potential yet.

The Wolverines’ offense, however, has been less
successful. Michigan is currently 17-6, and its most recent defeats
have come as a result of poor run-production. In its last four
losses, Michigan totaled just one run.

“At some point, our offense has got to improve,”
Hutchins said. “We need more improvement in the bottom half
of our order.”

The Wolverines are working hard to become more aggressive in
their pitch selection and swing techniques. Hutchins said the
offense needs to start making things happen, whether that means
laying down bunts at crucial moments or using other weapons.

Michigan will look to match its pitching dominance and defensive
success with these offensive improvements this weekend at the
Louisville Invitational in Louisville, Ky. The Wolverines will take
on Toledo, St. Louis, Eastern Kentucky and Louisville, tomorrow
through Sunday.

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