The No. 7 Michigan softball team once again has started its season hot, spending the first month and a half of its season on the road due to Ann Arbor’s uncertain weather as well as putting together a string of victories to start.
And Michigan continued that strong play on Wednesday, winning 3-0 at Mississippi State.
Similarly to last year‘s squad, the Wolverines strong start has largely been the result of good pitching, with yesterday’s game being no different.
Michigan recorded its fifth shutout of the young season, with senior pitcher Nikki Nemitz getting the start and the win. The leftie gave up four hits in five innings.
“We threw well, we hit our spots,” Nemitz said. “That’s all you can really ask for is just giving your team the best chance to win. It was 1-0 for a while and as a pitcher, you just got to make sure … you don’t give the team any chance to rally out there.”
Strong pitching has been one of the major keys to success in the last two seasons for the Wolverines, especially with Nemitz and junior pitcher Jordan Taylor as Michigan’s one-two punch on the mound.
Taylor relieved Nemitz in the sixth inning and pitched the rest of the game without giving up a hit.
The pitching has needed to do the heavy lifting for the Wolverines as the team’s bats continue to shake off the rust.
Michigan (10-4) was stuck at just one run through most of the contest until junior first baseman Dorian Shaw belted her second home run of the game in the sixth inning.
“We still have a lot of people that are just finding their groove right now,” Nemitz said. “Just getting everyone together on the same page and having hitting become contagious for us is what we need the most.”
Shaw, the Wolverines’ top home-run hitter last season, is one of the players that the team needs to find her rhythm. And with four homers in the last week, the team leader in RBI, home runs, and slugging percentage is well on her way.
“I think the mark of a great hitter is someone who can hit for power and can hit consistently,” Shaw said. “I’ve got the home runs down, that’s something that I can do. But I don’t want every time I get a hit to be a home run, but only get one hit every four games.”
Though Shaw has more or less found her swing, the rest of the team may still have some work to do going forward.
“We do leave a lot of runners on base,” Shaw said. “The day that we start getting those runners in as early as those opportunities are presented to us, I think that’s the day that we become a team that is just incredibly hard to beat. I think in all of our games that we’ve lost so far this year we had a lot of runners on base in scoring position and we just haven’t been able to push them across.”
Against Mississippi State (9-6), Michigan left five runners on base. And in their last loss to then-No. 9 Alabama, the Wolverines left nine on base (another way to say this?).
But even with the cold, the Wolverines look to continue their hot play in a four-game weekend series, starting this Friday.