On Friday, sophomore Marissa Young pitched nine of 14 innings in Michigan”s doubleheader against Purdue. The next day she pitched a complete game shutout against Indiana. This has become the life for Young and senior Marie Barda, now that the Big Ten season has begun.
“It is a little tougher just because you are sore from pitching the night before,” Young said. “But I kind of anticipated that, so you get your mindset to get ready for today.”
Barda and Young have pitched every game of Michigan”s current nine-game win streak with the only exception being Kate Eiland”s brief appearance yesterday against Indiana.
In past seasons, the Wolverines have used a three-pitcher rotation for the conference season. But as Eiland recovers from a hip injury, Michigan has been forced to use just Barda and Young. Neither pitcher has a problem with pitching on little rest.
“For me, I can keep sharp with my pitching I don”t have to sit out a couple days before I get to pitch again,” Young said.
“Our arms don”t really get sore,” Barda said. “We ice (our arms) after the game and the next day we feel fine.”
Barda and Young have been the only two pitchers during the season but now have to pitch nearly every-other day sometimes even more. They have responded well to the pressure of playing many games in a short stretch. The nine-game win streak has included three shutouts, and the two pitchers have allowed just 12 runs, nine earned during the streak.
“I think they are doing an excellent job. You really couldn”t ask for anything more,” Eiland said.
Yet early in the season, the two pitchers” confidence was shaken with unexpected losses. After going 18-4 last year, Young lost six of her first 12 games, before winning the past five. Barda also had struggled in the beginning, losing her first three starts of the season. Since then, she has gone 8-1.
Despite this, Hutchins knows that her pitchers” confidence is still shaky.
“Marissa struggled a little bit on Friday with her confidence, Barda struggled a little bit today with her confidence not throwing like I think they can,” Hutchins said. “We”re still a work in progress.”
On the entire Michigan roster, there are only five pitchers and only Barda and Young have seen much action. Sophomore Melinda Moulden has gotten one start but has started every game at either first base or in the outfield. Freshman Meghan Ritter also has just one start.
This has put the pitchers in a position to rely on each other as much as possible.
“We are comfortable with each other, and we play well together,” Barda said. “She helps me out, and I help her out.”
Hutchins is bringing Eiland along slowly as she recovers from injury and has been giving her time whenever she can Eiland pitched against DePaul and an inning against Indiana.
“I am definitely trying to work my way (into the rotation),” Eiland said.
Eiland knows that as Michigan makes a push toward the postseason, her opportunities to play will be fewer.
“It is hard to get time during the Big Ten season,” she said. “I haven”t proven that I can get it done myself you don”t want to risk it in Big Ten games.”
Michigan”s schedule doesn”t get any easier and the Wolverines will need Barda and Young to continue their strong pitching leading into the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments.
“I think Barda and I have done a really good job with it it has worked for us,” Young said.