Looking at the Michigan softball team’s schedule, it was only a matter of time before the sixth-ranked Wolverines stumbled upon their first loss.

The team was on a 24-game undefeated run, putting up gaudy offensive numbers left and right. Yes, Michigan wasn’t facing the most impressive teams, but it wasn’t slumping to those teams’ levels either.

Scoring 192 runs in 26 games means not going easy on anyone.

So to think it wasn’t No. 4 Arizona or No. 8 Arizona State who handed the Wolverines their first loss of the season, but instead a .500 Western Kentucky team, makes it clear Michigan didn’t just stumble over its first loss.

It ran right into it.

“I don’t think we’ll necessarily bounce back real strong,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said after Sunday’s loss. “I think sometimes a game is hard, and it was hard for us all weekend.”

So the Wolverines’ record has its first tally mark in the loss column. The lower energy level may be to blame. And Hilltopper pitcher Mallorie Sulaski may have had a great game, preventing Michigan from putting up the initial run for the first time all season.

Excuses aside, there’s not much of a difference between playing a 26-0 team versus a 25-1 team. In fact, losing this game to a team the Wolverines beat 7-1 just 24 hours before may actually result in a positive.

The team’s schedule is facing a steep incline, as the Wolverines face the highly ranked Wildcats and Sun Devils this weekend in California before kicking off conference play at Northwestern the following weekend. Coming into those games with a loss under its belt allows Michigan the opportunity to fix its mistakes.

“You can’t react to losing as something good or bad,” Hutchins said. “You have to stay even-keeled.”

And now it’s time for the Wolverines to follow the veteran coach’s counsel.

A loss to Western Kentucky wasn’t part of the plan, but it shows Michigan what happens when senior pitcher Jordan Taylor has an off inning and the bats don’t start rolling to support her. It shows what happens when runners are left on base inning after inning and senior Dorian Shaw goes a few games without a homerun. And it shows what happens when you sit back on your laurels and don’t attack inferior opponents.

The team shouldn’t be discouraged by this loss – it was inevitable. Maybe it wasn’t a top-10 team who beat the Wolverines. Maybe it was a team who faces just one ranked team its entire season, that being Michigan.

But a loss isn’t always a bad thing.

And the upcoming weekend will show whether this Michigan team will look at the causes of dropping that game and use them to its advantage. Arizona State (24-1), the Wolverines’ first opponent in this weekend’s Judi Garman Classic, has only dropped one game this season as well – to a modest 10-13 Utah squad.

It happens.

“It took all of us – the sum of our parts you could say – to pull one out for us today,” Hutchins said after the second Louisville game, which Michigan rebounded and won 2-0.

And it’s the sum of those parts that will look to utilize this loss as something positive, something demonstrative and something to fuel the Wolverines into this weekend’s final road tournament before Big Ten play.

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