Leading off the first inning against Bowling Green, leftfielder Alessandra Giampaolo swung at a 2-2 pitch and fouled the ball off her right foot.
She collapsed to her knees in the batter’s box.
After writhing in pain for several minutes, the senior stepped back into the box against Falcon pitcher Hayley Wiemer and promptly ripped the next pitch to deep centerfield. The ball sailed over the center fielder’s head and bounced off the wall 222 feet from home plate. Giampaolo cruised into second base with an easy stand-up double.
Just like any good leadoff hitter, she set the tone for the game. Michigan put at least one runner on base in each inning and went on to defeat Bowling Green 4-0.
When the Wolverines were in the field, it was freshman pitcher Jordan Taylor who set the tone. She struck out two Falcon batters in the first inning and never looked back, finishing the game with 14 strikeouts.
Pacing the Wolverines is hardly a new role for either Taylor or Giampaolo.
Giampaolo led off for Michigan nearly all of last season before moving to the two-hole this year. Sophomore centerfielder Molly Bausher batted first in most of Michigan’s games this season, but coach Carol Hutchins swapped the two batters in Tuesday’s game against Central Michigan and again yesterday.
The move created an instant spark at the top of the lineup.
“Alessandra has been much hotter than Molly,” Hutchins said. “We’re trying to give Molly a chance to get it going, because your leadoff hitter’s job is to get on base.”
After moving up in the order, Giampaolo was right in the middle of each Michigan rally.
She singled to lead off the third inning, and after Bausher singled to move her to second, senior Samantha Findlay doubled both runners home to give Michigan a 2-0 lead.
An inning later, junior shortstop Teddi Ewing reached base on a fielder’s choice and Giampaolo smashed an RBI double of her own, one-hopping the ball off the Penn State sign in the leftfield gap.
Giampaolo said she’s most comfortable hitting first, but didn’t credit the move up in the order for her solid day in the batter’s box. She attributed her performance to improved confidence and more success seeing pitches on the way to the plate.
The confidence has led to results – Giampaolo has hit safely in 10 of her last 17 at bats to raise her average to .355, the second-highest on the team.
Michigan scored just one run against Bowling Green without her help.
Sophomore Maggie Viefhaus capped the Wolverines’ scoring with a towering fifth-inning homerun, her fifth of the year. The blast landed among the construction equipment beyond Alumni Field’s rightfield bleachers.
The four runs were more than enough, as Michigan received another dominant outing from Taylor. The freshman went the distance, recording her third complete-game shutout in as many starts and improving her season record to 19-2.
In nearly every inning, Taylor worked ahead in the count with high fastballs before putting hitters away with her offspeed pitches on the outside part of the plate.
“We’re working on her up and down game,” Hutchins said “Her riseball and dropball can continue to get better. She knows that, she’s working on it and we had a chance to throw a lot in the game today.”