Eastern Michigan made the short bus ride to Alumni Field yesterday to play the Michigan softball team. Exactly an hour and a half later, the Eagles were thankful the bus ride back to Ypsilanti, was short, too.
The abbreviated commute left little time to dwell on their hitless outing.
Michigan’s pair of ace pitchers, sophomore Jordan Taylor and junior Nikki Nemitz, combined for a no-hitter in yesterday’s 9-0 win over Eastern Michigan.
After three hitless innings, Michigan coach Carol Hutchins pulled her starting pitcher, Taylor, for fellow All-American Nemitz.
Hutchins told the pitchers before the game they would split time, and Nemitz was ready to go. She struck out four in two scoreless innings to finish the combined no-hitter in a mercy-rule shortened, five-inning game.
The pair would have enjoyed a combined perfect game had it not been for one small mishap. Just one Eastern Michigan runner reached base the whole day after freshman catcher Amanda Chidester lost track of a third strike. The ball bounced off the backstop, and by the time Chidester located it, the runner had already reached safely.
Taylor had her third consecutive strong outing after struggling for much of the last month. And her newfound success could reach another level soon; she is currently developing a backdoor curveball.
“We’ve been working on it all fall so today is the first time I actually got to throw it,” Taylor said. “We only threw it twice, but both times it was successful.”
The offense gave their pitchers plenty of support, scoring nine runs in the first three innings.
After consecutive walks by juniors Roya St. Clair and Maggie Viefhaus, sophomore Dorian Shaw stepped to the plate and got the scoring started with a home run.
The ball traveled well beyond the scoreboard, clearing the pine trees behind the centerfield fence and nearly landing in the baseball stadium.
“I’m pretty good at reacting inside because I have relatively quick hands,” Shaw said. “I was looking for (a pitch outside), because she was throwing everybody in the right-handed batter’s box a lot of outside pitches. I just reacted and that’s what I need to start doing more.”
The three-run shot was her seventh of the year and her first since Mar. 28.
“I wasn’t really seeing the ball very well,” said Shaw, referring to the past few weeks. “I was so eager to hit it, and I’m watching it halfway to the plate and not all the way and that will mess you up every single time. I was popping a lot straight up in the air, miles high, and it just finally started to level out.”
The blowout gave Hutchins a final chance to get some of her reserve players extended playing time before the heart of conference play begins.
The lopsided win extended Michigan’s win streak to 10 games just before the tough stretch start. The Wolverines, third in the conference standings, need help to win the conference after getting swept in their Big Ten opener against Northwestern.
Sitting one game behind the Wildcats, the Wolverines can pressure the Big Ten leaders this weekend, as they head to Champaign for a two-game series against the Illini