After Saturday’s game against Michigan State, senior outfielder Kristin Larsen’s head got chewed off — but it wasn’t due to poor performance, and it wasn’t by one of her coaches.
“I need to find Kristin, I’m eating her head right now,” sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester voiced after the No. 2 Michigan softball team’s 10-0 victory over the Spartans.
It was Senior Day at Alumni Field, and a cake decorated with a picture of the seniors served as part of the celebration in the Wolverines’ final home game of the regular season.
All six senior Wolverines were honored before the game, as each walked one-by-one with their parents and stood in front of the Michigan dugout along the first-base line.
“It’s special for our parents to be down there,” senior catcher Roya St. Clair said. “They’ve supported us all growing up. Since we were little, taking us to the travel-ball tournaments, traveling all over the country. I know it’s got to be exciting for them to be down there.”
The heralded class included two first-team All Americans, two others that have been All-Big Ten selections and a Pitcher of the Year from 2008, as well as a host of other contributors — and that’s with its final year still unfinished.
As Michigan’s head coach for 26 years, Carol Hutchins has witnessed the emotional day many times.
“We all know that the most important thing is they’ve just been a great team and they’ve been part of a lot of great teams,” Hutchins said. “They’re just really good people. And that’s really a key ingredient to successful programs — having good people.”
As freshmen, the six current seniors replaced the 2006 graduating class, which included standout pitcher Jennie Ritter and two other All Americans — catcher (and now assistant coach) Becky Marx and second baseman Tiffany Haas.
That class also helped Michigan win its first national championship in 2005 as juniors — something the current crop of seniors is still looking to accomplish.
“We thought we had a great recruiting class. But they’ve really, I think, exceeded (expectations),” Hutchins said. “Their freshman year they were all in the lineup except for (Larsen). They played every day basically, and we made it to the third game of the Super Regional.”
Just like the rest of the year, the seniors got it done on the field Saturday, with five of the six reaching base and three recording at least one RBI.
“It’s pretty awesome, as a sophomore, to see your whole senior class step in and do something big one time or another,” Chidester said. “Seeing them take charge out there on that field makes me and my sophomore class want to be able to have our underclassmen look up to us like that, too.”
Enter the pink zone: Yesterday was not just Senior Day for the Wolverines, but it was a day to help raise breast cancer awareness by sporting pink jerseys.
The team auctioned off the six senior jerseys to help raise money for the organization Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.
“I always say I work with the over-privileged,” Hutchins said. “They get a lot of things handed to them. They’ve worked hard but they live the life. They go to practice and they work very hard but what a great life to have and not everybody has such great opportunities. So I think it’s our duty to help them realize that they need to give back to society and help make this a better place.”
Michigan Softball Academy: As part of the charity effort, the Wolverines held the first annual Michigan Softball Academy on Friday evening.
Hutchins and the entire Michigan team took part in the events, highlighted by the six seniors choosing teams as captains to compete in various skill-based competitions.
But it wasn’t the players that stole the show. Several parents were the talk of the event, including the mothers of freshman Jaclyn Crummey, junior Jordan Taylor and, especially, sophomore Stephanie Kirkpatrick.
“Linda Kirkpatrick, boy, she was impressive,” Hutchins said after Saturday’s game. “She did a back flip during warm ups. So clearly, I’ve got the wrong people playing.”