The Michigan softball team kept digging itself into holes last weekend.

Save a couple of routs against Texas-Arlington (combined score: 15-4), the 11th-ranked Wolverines’ opponents scored first in each of the three other games at the season-opening Wilson DeMarini Invitational.

But Michigan climbed out of its hole the first two times, rebounding from 1-0 deficits to Mississippi Friday and Houston Saturday for 3-1 and 2-1 victories, respectively. Paired with the wins over the Mavericks, the comeback victories were the most to start a season for the Wolverines (4-1) since 1995, when they started 6-0.

But the hole was a little deeper yesterday Michigan got buried, losing 2-1 in a rematch with Houston.

Michigan pitcher Lorilyn Wilson gave up hits to the leadoff hitter in each of her three starts, but until yesterday, she had responded nicely.

In the season opener against Texas-Arlington Friday, Wilson gave up a leadoff single, but then retired the last 15 batters – 10 by strikeout – in a mercy-rule victory.

Wilson gave up another leadoff single Saturday against Houston, but then set down the next five – three by strikeout – on the way to an eight-inning complete-game win.

In yesterday’s loss, the leadoff hitter doubled. But Wilson didn’t have her usual response. She allowed two runs on five hits, walked two, hit two, and struck out just four before being pulled in the fourth inning with the bases loaded and just one out.

“I don’t feel yesterday or today she threw with nearly the conviction or the velocity,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “I felt she was a little bit tentative around the edges and I certainly think that we just need her to come out and play hard and play to win and not worry about any other consequences.

“She certainly is capable of throwing with conviction everyday and I think when she mentally sets her mind to it, she’ll have more success.”

Freshman Nikki Nemtiz came in and forced the next batter, Houston centerfielder Katie Bush, to fly into a double play, as Houston second baseman Haley Valis was thrown out at third.

Even though Nemtitz allowed just one hit the rest of the way, Michigan’s offense couldn’t climb back as it had done twice before.

The Wolverines threatened in the top of the seventh when sophomore shortstop Teddi Ewing and senior leftfielder Rebekah Milian led the inning off with back-to-back singles, but Houston pitcher Angel Shamblin dropped the next three hitters, including catching sophomore first baseman Samantha Findlay looking at strike three to end the game.

“Our lack of run production was just a case of real tentative softball,” Hutchins said. “Offensively, we didn’t take good swings when we had our chances. We didn’t advance on some bases when we had our chances. . We weren’t aggressive. We didn’t go for it.”

The loss to Houston yesterday was in stark contrast to the comebacks Friday and Saturday.

After intentionally unintentionally walking Findlay in her three previous plate appearances, Mississippi didn’t mess around when the first baseman came up to the plate with a runner on first and two outs in the top of the seventh Friday. The Rebels intentionally walked the Lockport, Ill., native and moved the tying run into scoring position.

“When you’re playing a quality team, you never want to get beat by their best, and she’s one of their best,” Mississippi coach Missy Dickerson said.

Well, the Rebels got their wish; Findlay didn’t beat them. But senior Tiffany Worthy and junior Alessandra Giampaolo did. Worthy singled in the game-tying run, and Giampaolo tripled in two more for a 3-1 win.

“The key to our success is going to be a lot more than Sam Findlay,” Hutchins said. “And when Worthy was coming up to the plate I said ‘This is your role, get used to it.’ I’m hoping certainly that their thought process is ‘Good, I’ll get it done,’ ” Hutchins said. “You want them to have a little chip on their shoulder and say ‘What do you mean you’re going to pitch to me?’ and make it count.”

Milian had the game-winning RBI against Houston Saturday on a walk-off fielder’s choice to score freshman Molly Bausher, who started the inning on second base because of the international tiebreaker rule.

Hutchins said that she wasn’t terribly concerned if her Wolverines went 5-0 or 0-5 this weekend, but was using the early games as a chance to evaluate her players.

Although her overall impression was positive, she did see some room for improvement.
“They just need to get a little tougher, a little meaner around the edges,” Hutchins said.

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