With spring break arriving, the No. 14 Michigan softball team is preparing to take a trip down to Orlando, Fla. for the Citrus Classic, but relaxing on the beach likely isn’t on its schedule. Beginning Friday, the Wolverines, sitting at 10-3, will play seven games in six days against stiff competition — they have Monday off. This will be the fourth straight weekend that the team will spend in Florida.
The trip begins with a doubleheader on Friday against Georgia Tech (10-7) and No. 9 Texas A&M (18-0). The Yellow Jackets started their season strong, winning their first seven games, but they’ve gone 3-7 since, including a 1-4 trip to Cathedral City, Calif. last weekend.
The undefeated Aggies will be a big test for Michigan. They’re coming off a series at home last weekend that included performances from senior pitcher Mel Dumezich that earned her SEC Player of the Week. Dumezich pitched two no-hitters and finished the weekend 4-0 with an impressive 0.00 ERA, while also picking up her second save of the season. In her five appearances on the mound, she allowed only one unearned run off of just eight hits and one walk — all while racking up 22 strikeouts. If Dumezich and Michigan’s Sara Driesenga both get the start on Friday, it’ll make for a great pitching matchup.
The Wolverines will kick off their second doubleheader on Saturday against No. 11 LSU (14-2), which just completed a 4-1 trip to Palm Springs, Calif. Its only two losses have come against unranked North Carolina and No. 12 UCLA. Michigan will then take on James Madison (4-7) for the first time in program history. The Dukes are coming off a 3-2 weekend in Clearwater, Fla.
On Sunday, the Wolverines will take on their last ranked opponent of the trip, No. 10 Oregon (13-3), which arrives in Orlando on a hot streak. The Ducks went 5-0 last weekend in Palm Springs, Calif. and have won six in a row overall. However, Oregon’s three losses have come against the only three ranked teams it’s played, No. 4 Florida, No. 20 Hawaii and a 12-0 loss to No. 2 Oklahoma.
Michigan will enjoy a day off on Monday before taking on Boston College (3-2). The Eagles have only played five games and will spend the weekend in Kissimmee, Fla. before heading to Orlando for Tuesday’s game. At shortstop for the Eagles is sophomore CJ Chirichigno, the reigning ACC Player of the Week. In her five games over the weekend in Chattanooga, Tenn., Chirichigno went 8-for-14 with five RBI, three runs, two doubles and four stolen bases. The Wolverines will have to pitch carefully and stay focused defensively to keep her from putting up big numbers.
Michigan will close out its trip to Orlando with a game against Central Florida (10-7), which spent the weekend in Clearwater, Fla., where it went 4-1. The game will be played on its home field, where the Knights currently sit at 5-2.
The Wolverines will have a chance to continue improving in Orlando against three ranked teams and a couple all-conference caliber players in Dumezich and Chirichigno. Michigan is currently 1-1 against ranked teams, and this will be its chance to prove that it can deliver against other talented teams. They will also continue the battle for who will take over first base, a position of question so far this season with a revolving door of people getting playing time. Probable starters are junior Caitlin Blanchard or freshman Kelsey Susalla. The team is looking for someone to be consistent and limit errors, something that has been a struggle thus far.