By the time freshman pitcher Jennie Ritter stepped on to the mound yesterday to face Big Ten batters for only the second time in her college career, the Wolverines were already up 9-0 over Indiana. When Ritter replaced pitcher Nicole Motycka, she provided the crowd with a foreshadowing of what is to come next season when both Motycka and senior captain Marissa Young will have graduated.
In Ritter’s two innings of work against Indiana, she showed that she could at least hold her own in one of the toughest conferences in college softball.
Ritter gave up only one run and two hits and finished up the day by striking out three Hoosiers.
“It was exciting,” Ritter said. “This is the Big Ten, and it’s something that you want to do well with.”
The pitcher attributes her success on the hill to the tutelage she has received in her first year as a Wolverine.
“It’s definitely been a learning season,” she said. “I learned where to throw, what to do, and I’ve learned so much after only one year.”
She has learned to maintain her composure while keeping the mindset that she can never take it easy, or thoughtlessly whip the ball across the plate.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is realizing that every single batter up there is the best,” Ritter said. “You can’t just blow it by anybody. You have to hit every spot every time.”
Michigan’s starters used the third inning as batting practice with doubles by both freshman Grace Luetele and Motycka, a solo homerun by Young, as well as runs by Meghan Doe, Courtney Betley, Jessica Merchant, Motycka and Leutele. By the end of the inning, the Wolverines were up 9-0, where they stayed for the remainder of the contest.
Michigan spent the earlier portion of the weekend trouncing Indiana in the first game of the doubleheader, 9-1. On Friday, it defeated Purdue in a close 2-1 victory, and beat the Boilermakers again on Saturday, 3-2.
The four conference victories improved the Wolverines’ Big Ten record to 13-3. Illinois’ two losses to Iowa moves Michigan from third to first in the conference standings.
Yesterday the Wolverines were selected to host one of eight NCAA Regionals. The event will take place from May 15-18, with the winner advancing to the Women’s College World series, which will take place in Oklahoma City beginning May 22.