BLOOMINGTON- As Indiana walked off the field on Friday afternoon, they thought they had seen the last of Marissa Young.
The Hoosiers were mistaken.
After striking out a career-best 15 Hoosiers in Friday’s 9-2 win, Young came in to relieve Nicole Motycka to start the fourth inning on Saturday and continued her dominance. Young struck out 10 of the 14 batters she faced to earn her 15th win of the season.
Indiana’s only scoring opportunity was in the sixth, when a single through the hole on the left side and a dribbler that just went under Young’s glove for an infield single left runners on first and second with just one out.
But with the game on the line, Young struck out the final five batters to finish the Wolverines’ sweep of the Hoosiers.
“(Catcher Monica Schock) calls my game, and we just did a really good job of setting them up,” Young said. “They’re there to swing their bats, and that’s what they were doing.”
Young’s appearance on the mound changed the momentum of Saturday’s game. The Wolverines were hitless when Michigan coach Carol Hutchins made the switch from Motycka to Young. But after Young did not surrender a baserunner in two innings of work, the Wolverines came back and scored three runs taking the game.
That was after baffling the Hoosiers the day before, when she went the distance and allowed just five baserunners. Other than the two home runs she surrendered on Friday, Young’s weekend was almost perfect.
“She’s been pitching very, very well for us,” Hutchins said. “We’re glad she’s on our team.”
But performances such as the one here this weekend are nothing new for Young. Since she was a freshman, her performances have been far from ordinary.
Two seasons ago a 0.38 ERA in Big Ten games to lead the conference and was named to the All-Big Ten second team. After last season Young was in the top 10 in 13 Michigan season and career pitching records.
Since Michigan ace Marie Barda graduated last spring, Young has flourished as the staff ace. Her 25 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched this weekend gave her 182 for the season, just two fewer than the Michigan single-season mark she set last season. She is also on pace to break the program’s career strikeout record of 602 by the end of her junior season.
Young pitched the third perfect game in Michigan softball history on Feb. 16 against Utah State, and she has appeared on the mound in 24 of the Wolverines’ 33 games. Not only has Young started every other contest, but she has also relieved Motycka on seven occasions.
“You want your pitcher to be in good control of the game,” Hutchins said. “With Marissa, we certainly have that. And that helps everything on the field – whether we’re on offense or defense.”
Young has also taken Motycka under her wing. When the freshman has had any troubles on or off the field, Young has been there for assistance on everything from pitching to just adjusting to college life in general.
For the Wolverines to get back to the Women’s College World Series, the two are going to have to continue to complement each other.
Young and Motycka have accounted for all but three of the 221.2 innings of Michigan pitching this season. Sophomore Meghan Ritter has pitched the other three.
“I’ve been there as her support, and been there to help her if she has any questions, or just as a friend,” Young said.