I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
As I sit on the campus of the University of Kentucky, I am looking at the UK Softball fields. I watched the M SB game vs ohio via live stream. I am on my way to Atlanta so I decided to stop at UK and UT to check out the sights.
The #12 M SB Team continues to dominate the Big Ten. Today we scored 8 runs in the first inning en route to a 17-5 mercy-rule win against ohio. This makes it a sweep and second consecutive mercy-rule win. Ohio Pitcher Alex DiDomenico could not get an out in the first inning and was replaced. The M hitting came fast a furious today as we could do no wrong.
We were led by several players including Freshman Sierra Romero. This young lady is on fire. She went 2 for 3 with 3 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Ashley Lane went 1 for 2 with 2 RBIs and a run scored. Caitlin Blanchard went 1 for 3 with 3 RBIs and a run scored. Kelsey Susella went 2 for 2, Jaclyn Crummey went 3 for 3, and Sierra Lawrence went 2 for 2.
Haylie was the starting and winning pitcher today. She gave up 2 runs (0 ER) off 2 hits. She struck out 2 and walked 0 in 3 innings of work. She was relieved by Alice Fitzpatrick who pitched 2 innings and gave up 3 runs (2 ER) on 3 hits. She walked 1 and struck out 1.
Overall a great performance for our girls. Coach Hutch was able to get in several reserve players. Romero is playing lights out. If she keeps up this pace, she will win the Freshman of the Year.
The SB Team won a thriller today vs NC State at the Judi Garman Classic at Cal State Fullerton by a score of 1-0. We finished the highly prestigious tournament 4-1.
Haylie Wagner was nearly perfect today after a few bumps and brusies after returning from injury earlier this month. She pitched 8 innings, faced 29 batters, struck out 6, walked none and had 2 HBP. She scattered 5 hits and did not allow a run.
The winning run was scored in the bottom of the 8th. In NCAA the International Tie-breaker is used. This places the player who was at bat the previous inning when the last out was made, gets placed on 2nd base.
In this case it was Nicole Sappingfield. The first batter up was Sierra Romero and she singled to RF pushing Colie to 3rd base with no outs. Sierra stole second and NC State intentionally walked Sara to set up the force at the plate with no outs. Brandi Virgil pinch ran for 'Sara. Ashley Lane hit a hot shot to 3rd and the 3rd baseman could not make a play which scored Lyndsay for the win.
Hats off to NC State Pitcher So. Emily Weiman who pitched very well today. She pitched all 8 innings and gave up the one run but she struck out 8 and walked 1.
What a wonderful weekend for the ladies. The VT game was puzzling but they bounced back to win 4 in a row against tough teams. Great job ladies.
The softball team dropped a heart-breaker to VT today at Cal State Fullerton. VT took the win 3-2 with some timely hitting.
We were down 3-0 and had bases loaded in the 6th. Sara put one over in RF foul territory for the sac fly and an RBI. We could not score any more. VT did not score in the top half of the 7th.
In the bottom of the 7th, Amy Knapp hit a double to deep center which scored Ashley Lane, who drew a walk, for a 3-2 score. Jacklyn Crummy came in to PR for Amy. We just could not get a key hit to tie it up.
Haylie started and took the loss. She pitched 4.2 innings, gave up 1 ER off 3 hits. She had 3 Ks and 0 BB but had 2 HBP. Sara came on in relief and gave up 2 ER on 2 hits. She stuck out 2 and walked 1.
This loss is a killer. We should have took this game but just could not get a key hit. We had plently of opportunity to continue a rally but just could not get it.
Keep up the hard work ladies. We are proud of you all.
The Softball Team played their final game of the "Spring Break Tour" this morning. They defeated Illinois State 2-1.
The offense was led by Caitlin Blanchard who went 2 for 3 with an RBI. Colie went 3 for 4 with a runs scored. Amy Knapp went 2 for 3 and Ashley Lane went 2 for 4 and scored teh game winning run. Sierra Lawerence hit a double in the top of the 7th and Ashley scored on a throwing error. Ashley and Amy are showing their Senior leadership that this team needs.
Haylie was the winning pitcher. She allowed 1 ER off 1 hit, which was a 3rd inning bomb to ISU's, Kolby Hoffman. Haylie faced 25 batters and struck out 7 and walked 3.
So we are now approaching the half way mark of the season. Haylie is back and is in her groove. Sara continues to dominate and the offense is getting help up and down the line-up. Next weekend's trip to California and the Judi Garman Classic will be a barometer. Several Top 20 teams will be there.
The #14 SB team took another win today in Orlando Florida by defeating UCF 11-2 in a mercy-rule win. The temperature was 65F under sunny skies.
So. Haylie Wagner made her season debut today in Orlando, Florida on the campus of UCF. She was the winning pitcher going 3 innings, giving up 2 runs (1 ER) off 2 hits (1 HR) and walking 1 while striking out 1. Sara came in the last 2 innings and did not allow a base runner. She faced 6 batters and struck out 3.
The offense was led by Lyndsay Doyle. She went 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs and 4 runs scored. Sierra Romero went 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs. Amy Knapp went 2 for 2 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored. Colie Sappingfield went 1 for 1 with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored. We ended up with 11 hits total from 8 different players.
We are at the 1/3 point of the season. We played 20 out of 55 games thus far. We are 15-5. Sara has an ERA of 1.3. She has 107K and 16 BB while pitching 107.2 innings.. By comparison Alabama's Jackie Traina has a 1.27 ERA with 99 Ks and 29 BBs while pitching 71.2 innings. Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts, 2012 Player of the Year, has an 0.87 ERA; 108Ks and 21 BBs through 72.2 innings of work.
The offensive leaders are: Fr. Sierra Lawerence, BA .385; Fr Sierra Romero, BA .382; Sr. Amy Knapp, BA .362. Sierra Romero leads with 5 HR, Ashley Lane with 4 HR and Sierra Lawerence with 3 HR.
The biggest suprises on offense this year are Amy Knapp and Caitlyn Blanchard. Amy is hitting .362 and Caitlyn is hitting .352.
Now that Haylie is back, this will give us the best 1-2 punch in the country. Welcome Back Haylie.
The Michigan Softball team travels to the Great State of Alabama to play the Tide in the softball Super Regional this Thursday and Friday. The dates and times are set by ESPN.
The Super Regional are basically a best 2 out of 3. These games are typically played on consecutive days with the "if game" played on the second day after game #2.
Conventional wisdom would indicate that ‘Bama is a hands-down better team. Now, at first glance, I would agree. Alabama has a better record while playing in a better conference. ‘Bama’s non-conference schedule is about the same as ours. So overall one would think that ‘Bama should blow us out of the Great State of Alabama.
Now, let’s break it down and look at it piece by piece. There are a few items that might get you to re-think your initial opinion. Let’s take a look at the numbers and the intangibles.
COACHING STAFF & FACILITIES: Huge Advantage Michigan
Coach Hutch is an underrated Coach. She is conservative when she needs to be and aggressive when she needs to be. I really enjoy watching her coach. I learn something every time.
RECORD vs COMMON OPPONENTS: Advantage ‘Bama
We have 4 common opponents: LSU, Maryland, UMass and Mississippi State. We beat LSU and ‘Bama went 2-1. We both played Maryland once: we lost 2-1 and ‘Bama mercied them 19-1. UMass was another common opponent. This is the game where we just laid an egg and lost 1-0. ‘Bama won 8-0. The last common opponent was Mississippi State. We beat then once and ‘Bama beat them 3 times. So overall, 'Bama has been more successful.
HITTING: Advantage ‘Bama
‘Bama has 8 starters that is hitting above .300. ‘Bama’s top 2 batters are Jennifer Fenton at .381 and Cassie Reilly-Boccia at .353.
We have 6 players hitting at or above .300. Our top 2 batters are Sara at .357 and Chiddy at .351.
This data is somewhat skewed as well. We started off very slow at the plate. It has only been the last 10 games or so that we really started hitting. So I gave a slight advantage to ‘Bama although I would not be surprised if we out hit them. We are definitely swinging the hot bat.
Now this is an area where conventional wisdom is challenged. I bet there are some on this board that will disagree with me on this point and they would have some valid points. ‘Bama has all-universe pitcher Jackie Traina. Traina’s numbers are: ERA 1.68 WHIP 1.07; K/BB: 3.8:1. We have Freshmen Phenom; Haylie Wagner. Haylie’s numbers are: ERA 1.46; WHIP .99; K/BB: 3.3:1
Traina is a sophomore this year. She has impressive numbers, no question about it. Her WHIP and K/BB ratio are very good. Wagner has a better ERA though. Once you break down the data, it appears that the faster Traina gets batters to swing at questionable pitches. The key here is for us to be patient at the plate. Traina gets most of her Ks off the rise ball. The rise ball is a difficult pitch to lay off. The ball appears to the batter of being chest-high; but as it reaches the batter, it climbs above the chin. Most risers not swung at are called balls for being too high.
Wagner’s numbers are somewhat skewed. She is pitching much better the last half of the season compared to the first half. This is common for Freshmen pitchers. She is not the same pitcher now as she was in February and March.
Sara is a much better #1B pitcher than ‘Bama’s #2 Leslie Jury. Jury is the traditional backup: someone to give you innings when the #1 needs a break. Our pitching depth is definitely an advantage.
So overall I rate the pitching as EVEN. Traina is faster and had better numbers than Haylie. However, Haylie’s numbers are skewed. We have better depth as well.
DEFENSE: Slight Advantage Michigan
Here is where the conventional wisdom can get tricky. If you look at just the raw numbers, someone could draw the conclusion that ‘Bama has the slight advantage. The error totals for both teams are about equal for both teams. The number of twisted DP are about equal too: ‘Bama has 21 DP compared to 20 for us. Where we have the advantage is with Coaching. Our girls will surely “out-think” ‘Bama. That is not to say that ‘Bama Players are not smart, because they are. However, our kids don't make many mental mistakes.
My point is simple. We make decisions quicker. This past weekend in Louisville we twisted 3, count them 3 double plays. I can could on one had where my teams have twisted 2 DP’s in a game, let alone a 5-4-3 DP. Another point is that we are aggressive with getting the lead runner. Steph was successful 3 times in getting the lead runner off a bunt. Most players just get the out at first.
KEYS FOR A MICHIGAN VICTORY
1) BE PATIENT: We need to be patient at the plate. We cannot chase the high stuff and take ourselves out of the game. We can certainly hit Traina but we need to have good pitch selection. Our top 3 need to outperform their top 3. I would not be surprised if we took the first pitch the first time through the order.
2) PLAY ERROR FREE: This weekend we had a few players that did not have their best games. This needs to improve. ‘Bama will certainly take advantage of errors. Alabama’s best inning is by far the 1st inning. They scored 103 runs this year in the first inning. As the game wears on, they produce less runs per inning. So we have to stop the top of the order in the first inning. That is going to be a tough order even if we play error free.
3) KEEP ALABAMA TO 3 OR LESS RUNS: Alabama is 1-5 when they score 3 or less runs. They will give up their fair share of runs. If we try to get into a slugfest, we lose. Traina is a good pitcher especially with a lead.
4) PITCHING: This is an over-statement but its true. We need to at least pitch as well as Traina. We certainly have the tools to accomplish this. Haylie curve ball is lights out. If she is on, book your ticket to Oklahoma City. If Haylie struggles, lets hope the D picks her up.
I will not make a prediction until game-time. This Super is going to be the most interesting that is for sure. We are the dogs, no doubt about it…..on paper. No one is taking us seriously. I hope ‘Bama is looking ahead and not at the task at hand.