The Michigan softball team’s home opener quickly turned into a blowout yesterday when senior pitcher Nikki Nemitz blasted a grand slam over the center field wall as part of a seven-run fifth inning.

The scoring surge ended the Wolverines’ 10-2 victory over Bowling Green in the fifth due to softball’s eight-run mercy rule.

“I got my pitch, and it just felt perfect off the bat,” Nemitz said. “I was just seeing it, and I just felt confident.”

After the next three batters were walked, senior outfielder Angela Findlay drove another run in with a single, followed by yet another walk to unceremoniously end the game with three Michigan players remaining on base and only one out in the inning.

Findlay spearheaded the Wolverines’ offensive production for most of the game. Batting second in the lineup, the senior captain went 4-for-4 on the day with one RBI.

“I always call her my blue-collar player,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said of Findlay. “She just comes to play everyday. She works hard. Whether she has good at bats or bad at bats, she just comes back every time and digs in, does whatever we ask her to do.”

Before the Wolverines (23-5) blew the game wide open in the fifth, the Falcons were able to keep the game in doubt early.

After Michigan broke out to a 3-0 lead after the third inning, Bowling Green (4-10) started to mount a comeback with a two-run home run of its own in the fourth.

Following the victory, Hutchins mentioned Michigan’s normally slow start in its home openers.

“The first home game is always kind of out of the ordinary,” Hutchins said. “You’ve been on the road so long, it’s so odd to walk on your own field and actually play a game. I think it’s hard to do. That’s why I always schedule a nonconference game prior to the conference opener. Because it’s a huge adjustment, as weird as that sounds.”

Nemitz started the home opener on the mound and picked up the win, improving to 10-3 on the season. Nemitz struck out seven batters in the first three innings, finished with nine total and gave up just two earned runs.

Even with the strong performance yesterday and a solid season stat line to date, Nemitz certainly still has higher expectations of herself.

“I haven’t had the strongest senior year on the mound,” Nemitz said. “But I know my team’s hitting well, they’re playing great defense and all I need to do is keep people off base. And if I’m having one bad inning … I know that my teammates are right there.”

With the first month and a half of the season spent traveling every week, playing its first game at home was certainly a boost for Michigan, especially with the Big Ten season opening this Saturday and Sunday at home against Illinois.

The home opener also served as the unveiling of the softball facilities’ finalized renovations, marked by the expansion of the right-field bleachers.

“I’ve been watching them build this stadium for two years now and it’s finally done,” Nemitz said. “It’s just great to play on it and be back with our fans.”

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