No-hitter? No problem.
Junior pitcher Jordan Taylor threw a gem for the Wolverines this past weekend, improving to 5-0 and logging her first complete game no-hitter of the season in a 7-0 win over Oklahoma State on Friday.
With solid pitching, smart defense and an explosive offense, the No. 4 Michigan softball team (6-2) showcased its complete arsenal this past weekend, winning four out of five games at the Tiger Classic in Baton Rouge, La. The three-day tournament culminated with an 8-1 win over Oklahoma State in the championship game on Sunday.
“We’re all about playing Michigan softball, staying in the moment, making your pitches work,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “We don’t get caught up in who we’re playing, we worry about playing good softball.”
In the championship game, Oklahoma State got on the board first in the second inning but the Wolverines didn’t panic. They resorted to their strengths — offense and pitching — to cruise to victory. Taylor stayed calm and pitched six strong innings, allowing one earned run while striking out eight.
“Jordan’s a great pitcher,” Hutchins said. “I’m most pleased with the consistency she’s shown, not just in her performance but in her pitch-to-pitch approach. Right now, she’s pitching well, she’s very focused and she’s playing one-pitch softball, and that’s her key to success.”
Saturday was a quiet day for the Wolverines’ bats. Though Michigan beat No. 19 Louisiana State 2-0, the Wolverines fell 2-1 to unranked Virginia. Hutchins stressed the fact that the Wolverines must be firing on all cylinders to perform at their best.
“If pitchers do their part, the hitters have their part to do,” Hutchins said. “Yesterday’s game against Virginia, it’s quite obvious that our hitting didn’t do their part. Our defense didn’t play as well as it could, and our hitting did not do its part. But when we all do our part, you’ll see good things occur, such as W’s. W’s are good.”
On Sunday, the Wolverines got a much-needed spark from their offense. Michigan scored in every inning from the third on and scored three runs in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Sophomore left fielder Bree Evans highlighted the Wolverines’ scoring attack as she walked once, scored and drove home two on an RBI single. Her clutch play from the leadoff position helped seal the Wolverines’ win.
“I just felt a lot more relaxed this weekend,” Evans said. “I tried to not to have anything affect me. It helped that I didn’t let my last setback affect my next at bat. All I’m trying to accomplish is getting on base, because if I get on base then I know my team can make something happen and get the first run across.”
In addition to boosting their confidence with early season tournaments, playing five games in three days is a good endurance test for the Wolverines.
“It’s a grind,” Hutchins said. “By game five, we looked tired. When we get into the conference season, we’ll only have to play two games in a weekend, so it will seem like a piece of cake. But each pitch in every game we play is so intense. You evolve as the season goes on, but these five game weekends, they’re tough.”
With two early-season tournaments out of the way, including a win at the Tiger Classic, Michigan heads to into the rest of its season with an agenda: to surpass last season’s Women’s College World Series appearance with an NCAA National Championship.
“I think that fans should be excited because our team is on a mission,” Evans said. “We want to win it this year and we know that we’re capable of winning it. We’re going to do anything we can to win the national championship this year.”