The Michigan softball team needed to redeem itself after a rough weekend in Louisville. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, that redemption will have to wait.

Playing just three out of the five scheduled games at the Judi Garman Classic in California, the Wolverines walked away with a 1-2 record. No. 19 Michigan began the weekend with a 2-1 victory over Notre Dame, followed with a 2-0 loss to No. 7 Oklahoma and finished with a 1-0 loss to No. 5 Arizona State. The final games against Virginia and No. 24 DePaul were canceled due to rain and poor field conditions.

Offensive struggles plagued the Wolverines once again, as they were only able to manage six hits in the last two games of the weekend.

“We just need something to spark us to get us on a roll,” said Michigan coach Carol Hutchins. “If we go up to the plate with confidence, we will hit with confidence. We have the ability — we just have to believe it.”

Michigan (17-9 overall) ended its weekend with a chance to knock off the Sun Devils, but was robbed of its opportunity in the seventh inning. With the Wolverines own one run, senior first baseman Amanda Chidester led off the inning with a shot to the center-field wall. Though it appeared she would have a tying home run, Arizona State’s Elizabeth Caporuscio snatched the ball over the wall to deprive Chidester of a game-changing play.

Against Oklahoma, the Wolverines failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded opportunity in the fifth inning, which would ultimately be their best chance at turning the game around. Freshman pitcher Haylie Wagner was credited with a loss after pitching a solid seven innings. During the tournament, she pitched 21 straight innings and ended her weekend with eight strikeouts and just three walks.

Hutchins realizes that despite the losses, her pitching staff, including Wagner, has been integral to giving Michigan a fighting chance in each game.

“We have to look at what we have done well, which has been out-pitching (opponents),” Hutchins said. “This weekend, we held two of the top teams in the country (Oklahoma and Arizona State) to two earned runs. We are competing well and need to keep building on the good things we are doing.”

The weekend began on a high note with a comeback victory against Notre Dame. After junior second baseman Ashley Lane hit a home run to tie the game in the second inning, both teams remained tied until the seventh inning. The score would not change until sophomore Taylor Hasslebach came in as a pinch-hitter and provided a walk-off single to score junior shortstop Amy Knapp for the win.

In one of the most difficult nonconference schedules to begin a season, the Wolverines gained much-needed experience that Hutchins hopes will translate to wins in the Big Ten season and hopefully the NCAA Super Regionals.

“We have played a very tough schedule up to this point,” Hutchins said. “These tough losses will make us tough down the stretch. You learn a lot about yourself and teammates in these games. We cannot be too concerned with the wins and losses right now. I am not worried about that.”

Though the two losses cast a shadow over the weekend, Hutchins is still optimistic after a difficult early-season schedule, in which the Wolverines went 4-4 against ranked opponents.

“It is a chance to start over, but at the same time, we want to keep moving forward,” Hutchins said. “We need to get back to our ‘one-pitch’ mentality.”

After six straight road trips, Michigan looks forward to spending a much-needed weekend in Ann Arbor, where they will begin Big Ten competition against Penn State.

“I can tell you, we are very excited to play at home next weekend,” Hutchins said. “We will come out enthused and ready to play at our favorite field. Alumni Field is a great place to play in front of our great fans.”

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