It’s a tradition during the Jewish holiday of Passover to eat unleavened bread.
But hours before the holiday began at sunset yesterday, the Michigan softball team’s bats appeared to be observing it early. Eventually, the offense rose to life in the Wolverines’ 7-2 win at Central Michigan.
The Chippewas (1-7 Mid-American Conference, 7-19 overall) jumped out to an early 1-0 lead as pitcher Ali Pettit hung on by throwing balls low. Central Michigan held a slim lead until the sixth inning, when junior outfielder Angela Findlay found her swing and belted a two-run homer over the left-center wall of Margo Jonker Stadium.
“I was just going up there to hit the ball hard,” Findlay said. “We had just talked about keeping our eyes down on the ball.”
Findlay’s blast was just the beginning. Sparked by a five-run seventh inning, the eighth-ranked Wolverines extended their win streak to seven.
Freshman second baseman Stephanie Kirkpatrick, who made her first appearance in the leadoff spot, was the lone Wolverine to consistently reach base. Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said the lineup switch was a trial but hinted that it could reappear in the future.
The move paid off. Michigan (4-2 Big Ten, 27-9) had three hits before the sixth inning — and two were Kirkpatrick’s.
“I like being in the leadoff spot,” said Kirkpatrick, who hit leadoff in high school. “It felt like I was back home in my spot. It wasn’t different. I’ll take any spot, but it was comfortable being up at the top.”
Sophomore first baseman Dorian Shaw’s first-inning fielding error led to Michigan’s early 1-0 deficit. With two errors in Wednesday’s game, Michigan has committed five errors in its past three games. The Wolverines have committed four errors in their three midweek games this season.
“We definitely need to play some better defense,” Hutchins said. “We gave up a run in the first inning, but we didn’t let it lead to big innings. … It’s just not concentrating and not staying focused on the ball and the moment.”
The single game was a rare break from the new schedule of midweek doubleheaders in Big Ten games. The Wolverines insist they are not fatigued by the new amount of both nonconference and conference games on Wednesdays.
And despite their fielding errors, the final result is still the same — wins. Of their three midweek games, their lowest margin of victory was yesterday’s five-run contest.