To the No. 2 Michigan softball team, a doubleheader means a chance to play 14 innings of ‘Michigan Softball.’
But Michigan (5-0 Big Ten, 28-5 overall) needed just 12 innings on Thursday, beating Indiana 8-2 in game one before run-ruling them 14-1 after five innings in game two.
“Playing a doubleheader, you know what you were messing up in the first game,” sophomore centerfielder Bree Evans said after the game. “You’re really driven to do better in that second game. If you have a doubleheader, your energy is up and you’re more focused right after, so it helps you succeed. You know what the pitchers look like and what they were throwing, so you didn’t lose anything by taking a break.”
The Wolverines — who have won seven straight games — had the Hoosiers’ number on Thursday. In both games, Michigan scored two runs in the top of the first inning, sparking the offense for the rest of the game.
Game one featured three multi-run home runs by seniors Roya St. Clair and Maggie Viefhaus and junior Dorian Shaw. In game two, the Wolverines scored 14 runs on 13 hits, most runs manufactured.
Regardless of how the team crossed the plate, Michigan managed to hit the ball well against Indiana and translate hits into runs.
“Scoring first sets the tone in the top of the inning when we’re not the home team,” St. Clair said, “to get some runs across the board for our pitchers to give them some run support so they go out there and know that the offense is helping.”
Taking the mound with the lead in both games, the pitching duo of junior Jordan Taylor and senior Nikki Nemitz kept the Hoosiers from mounting comebacks. Even freshman pitcher Stephanie Speierman saw one inning of action in the second game as Michigan had a comfortable 13-run lead.
Controlling the tempo from the get-go, the Wolverines combined for 24 hits over both games in a sustained offensive attack.
“We have a number of kids who are capable, when they get a good cut at the ball that are capable of hitting it over the fence,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said. “We are very capable of hitting it out. We had a few occasions where we got really good looks at the ball.
“In the second game we were a little scrappier but we still found a lot of ways to score and we hit the ball well. I like that we can hit for average and hit for power, to me it’s a great combination.”
The leadoff hitter, Evans, found pop in her bat in the second game against Indiana, going 3-for-4 from the plate with five RBI. At the top of the order, Evans needed to find ways to get on base for the rest of the lineup to drive her in. In the second game on Thursday, the two, three, and four hitters followed Evans’ lead, each tallying at least one RBI.
“We’re a good hitting team,” Hutchins said. “We do a lot of things every time we play. Sometimes we score early, sometimes we score late, but the most important aspect is that we score.”
The offense lifted Michigan to success on Thursday and the team looks to keep the bats hot as it travels to Minnesota this weekend. With just 12 hours at home before heading to St. Paul, the Wolverines don’t have long to prepare for the weekend series.
“Right now we’re going to have to be in game mode,” Hutchins said. “We talked a lot about not being complacent, and playing hard and playing Michigan softball. I’m certain there are going to be games that are closer. This team has been through that, they’re tested.
“They’ve played a lot of great teams already. Our goal is to not let games be close. This team is pretty talented and pretty senior led, and I think that’s how this team works and that they should be able to respond when there are challenges in front of them.”