The No. 4 Michigan softball team hasn’t been hitting the ball and scoring runs nearly as much as it was earlier in the season, shifting from scores like 8-0 against then-No. 7 Arizona to a 5-4 loss last weekend against Indiana.

The recent slump forced the Wolverines (3-1 Big Ten, 33-3 overall) to pick up three come-from-behind wins in a row. Not to mention, the defeat by the Hoosiers marked Michigan’s first loss at home in almost three years.

Despite the lack of consistent power coming from the plate over the past few weeks, there is one regular Wolverine who is a pest to Michigan’s opponents: junior centerfielder Bree Evans.

Evans has been sitting in the leadoff spot all season, and with an on-base percentage of .460, there’s no question why Michigan coach Carol Hutchins keeps her there. Senior first baseman Dorian Shaw is the only Wolverine ahead of her (with an on-base percentage of .600), but with 40 walks this season it’s not surprising she tops the list.

The leadoff hitter is responsible for starting the rally, running the bases diligently and trying to get on base by any means possible.

Whether she lays a bunt down, hits a lefty slap up the middle or makes contact for an outfield single, Evans has proved that keeping her off the bases is going to be difficult.

And looking at Evans’ résumé, it’s obvious why she is the first Wolverine to walk up to home plate each game.

Can Evans start a rally? Yes. With recent inconsistent help from the bottom of the Michigan lineup, Evans typically is the one who has to kick off any sort of rally for the Wolverines.

With a team-leading 18 multi-hit games on the season, she always seems to come through in the clutch.

Can she run the bases? Yup. When the power hitters come to the plate, it is Evans who Michigan wants on the bags. She tops the Big Ten with 38 runs scored and is currently 4-for-7 when stealing bases.

The junior has wheels — running from first base to score on several occasions this year — and has become a crucial part of the formula to score when Shaw, junior third baseman Amanda Chidester and sophomore second baseman Ashley Lane walk up to the plate.

And can Evans make contact with the ball? No question. After last weekend’s contests against Indiana, Evans leads the Big Ten with 50 hits, going 4-for-8 during the Hoosier doubleheader.

With 124 at bats — another statistic she leads in the conference — Evans has a lot of chances to fail. But she fights every time she’s at the dish, making pitchers like Indiana’s All-American Morgan Melloh unable to stop her from getting on base.

Now it’s up to the rest of the Michigan squad to find its mojo and give Evans some necessary back up. Who knew that it would be the lefty center fielder — not veterans like Shaw and Chidester — leading not only Michigan, but the Big Ten in hits and runs?

The leadoff position can be the most intimidating spot in the lineup. But Evans has proven — not just to her team, but to every opponent the Wolverines face — that one way or another, she’s going to get on base.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.