Forty-eight and one-third innings.
Zero runs allowed.
In yesterday’s game against Bowling Green, freshman pitcher Jordan Taylor showed why she holds the nation’s second-best earned runs average.
When Taylor struck out Bowling Green’s Katelynn Boso to close out the seventh inning yesterday, the scoreboard at Alumni Field read 4-0. Taylor had just fanned the 14th Falcon batter of the game and extended her shutout streak.
“Those numbers give you a little incentive to keep shutting them down,” Taylor said. “But like any other day, you want to beat the batter.”
You have to go back to March 20 against then-No. 19 Fresno State to find the last time a runner crossed home plate against Taylor.
The freshman’s composure on the mound remains her best asset. Though she gave up two leadoff singles and a leadoff walk in the middle innings against Bowling Green, she kept her focus. Taylor said composure has always been one of her strengths, but she has developed more confidence pitching well against college hitters.
“She works on making her next pitch,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “And when she doesn’t make her pitch, and they get away from her sometimes, she just stays with it. She’s a hardworking kid who doesn’t allow herself to get outside of her game.”
Taylor has kept batters off-balance all season with her dominant changeup and a solid curveball. She has retired 14 batters in each of her last three starts.
But even when she gives up hits, she relies on a defense that has an impressive .967 fielding percentage.
“It makes our job a lot easier as an infield when she gets soft ground balls, and when she does her job out there,” sophomore third baseman Maggie Viefhaus said. “She’s a great pitcher, and she’s only going to get better if she keeps working hard.”
Heavy hitting: When Viefhaus’s fifth-inning hit soared high over the rightfield bleachers her hot streak appeared reignited.
After starting off the season batting .357 through the first eight games, Viefhaus has gone through hot and cold spells, but continues to give the Wolverines big hits. Her two home runs in the last four games may be an indication of an upswing.
“We just need Maggie to not try to do too much,” Hutchins said. “She just needs to allow herself to play and allow herself to swing, because she’s got one of the best swings in college softball.”
Viefhaus contributed strong play this past weekend against Illinois and remains solid at the No. 5 spot. She has collected 35 hits this season, third on the team.
Bausher to the fence: The Michigan defense looks a lot different than it did last season, particularly the outfield. Sophomore Molly Bausher’s speed has added a new dimension.
Moving from second base to the outfield, Bausher has displayed her athleticism with diving catches and blazing speed to the warning track.
“Molly is one of our very best athletes,” Hutchins said. “When we called upon her to do it, we asked her to change positions from what was probably her favorite position, but she’s learned to embrace it.”
Bausher made one of her dazzling catches last night, snagging a shot to deep center by Bowling Green’s Dawnjene Delong’s with an outstretched arm over her shoulder.
“I’m a lot more comfortable there now,” Bausher said. “At the beginning I was a little shaky, but now I feel really good out there.”