After junior shortstop Jessica Merchant hit her third homerun of
the day in the second game of the softball team’s home
opener, the question running rampant in the bleachers was,
“What did she eat today?”

“Well, I ate a turkey sandwich with pickles,”
Merchant said. “But really, I was just confident going up to
the plate. I knew I could hit the balls well, and I took advantage
of it. I’ve never been a power hitter, but I’ll take
it.”

Yesterday, after 27 games played away from Ann Arbor, Michigan
finally made its homecoming at Alumni Field in a doubleheader
against the Falcons. The Wolverines swept the series with a score
of 8-0 in the first game and 9-5 in the second. Merchant led the
team with three home runs, including a grand slam in the first
game. She upped her season home-run total to 11 while driving in
nine of Michigan’s total 17 runs.

“Obviously she was on,” coach Carol Hutchins said.
“She can be hot and cold some days, but she’s certainly
capable of doing well for us when that’s what we need her to
do.”

The Wolverines took an early lead in the first game by scoring
seven runs in the bottom of the second inning. Leading 3-0 with two
outs and the bases loaded, Merchant hit a grand slam to bring the
score to 7-0.

Michigan split the two games between pitchers sophomore Jennie
Ritter and freshman Lorilyn Wilson. Ritter pitched the first game,
allowing just one hit in her five innings. Wilson, on the other
hand, had more trouble. She allowed nine hits and five runs, which
was not typical of her previous efforts. Just last week she struck
out a career-best 12 and allowed just one hit and a walk for her
third complete-game shutout of the season.

“I thought Ritter pitched well in the first game,”
Hutchins said. “But I thought Wilson probably had her worst
performance of the year.”

Michigan had lost two straight openers and three of the last
four.

“It was really great to get a win in for our season
opener,” Hutchins said. “We haven’t done that for
a few years, mainly because we’ve had to play conference
games. That’s primarily why we scheduled a non conference
game this year.”

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