This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
As expected, when the Big Ten softball awards were released, Michigan was once again prominently featured. Megan Betsa was a unanimous selection for pitcher of the year and Carol Hutchins was coach of the year for the 15th(!) time. Betsa, Christner, Romero, and Wagner all made it onto the All-Conference 1st team, Lawrence, Ramirez, and Sweet came in on the 2nd team, and Wagner, Christner, and Lawrence also appeared on the All-Defensive team. Becca Garfinkel was honored with one of the sportsmanship awards.
In an interesting turn, for the first time in her Michigan career, Sierra Romero actually did not win Big Ten Player of the year, and honor that went to Minnesota's brilliant sophomore pitcher Sara Groenewegen. This comes as Romero's numbers dipped somewhat during conference play as opposed to the non-conference season, probably largely due to her arm injury. Hopefully she'll be able to tough it out through the playoffs & get it plenty of rest over the summer.
After a 4-0 week that involved a little scare at the hands of MSU, two thrashings of Maryland, and a close game sealed by a no-hitter from Betsa, Michigan has risen to #3 in both of the human polls. This comes largely on the strength of LSU's tumble in the rankings. The Tigers slid to 5th and 6th in the polls after taking it on the chin from Missouri this week. The RPI, being purely a formula, didn't care as much about the rough weekend, and kept the Tigers at #2.
These are all fairly small jitters, but we're getting late enough in the season that poll-watching (esp. RPI watching) has become an important activity. Tournament seeding will be coming up in just a couple weeks. The two things to keep an eye on are who's in the top 16 (regional hosts) and who's in the top-8 (super-regional hosts if they win their regionals). Last year some late slip-ups dropped Michigan out of hosting anything. This year, only a total collapse would have any chance of doing that, and a super-regional seed is a very realistic possibility. Handle business against PSU & make a good B10 tourney showing, and it'll look good for post-season softball at Alumni Field.
Softball team on the road against Maryland today, up 2-0 in the 2nd after a 2-run single from Tera Blanco. I'm going to have to head out in a bit, but I wanted to open the conversation here since there was some good news. Game is on BTN.
Carol Hutchins appeared on the Inside Michigan Sports Radio Show recently and made some public statements regardings the injury situations on the team that some of us have been concerned about. Senior pitcher Sara Driesenga has been out since the Alabama series with what Hutchins described as a "naggy minor injury", but she said she was hoping to get her back in the next "week or so". Lauren Sweet, meanwhile, suffered a sprained ankle againt Kent State. She is back on her feet, though, and is expected back "shortly". Any issues with other players Hutch wrote off as just "bumps and bruises, aches and pains" - standard things that come up in any season.
It's a relief to hear the good news on both fronts, especially for Lauren Sweet. Sweet has been having a fantastic senior season, and went down on a nasty-looking slide into home. I was afraid it was a knee injury or something long-term like that looking at the video, so it's good to hear it's not something that huge, and that she's on the mend. For us to go deep in the tournament, having her & Driesenga back at full speed will be big.
Apologies if this was already written up, but I scrolled through older posts and didn't see anything since Saturday.
Anyway, the M softball team destroyed OSU again on Sunday in Columbus, mercy-ruling the Bucks 20-0. M pitcher Megan Betsa had little trouble, allowing just 4 baserunners and striking out 9. Just about every M hitter got in on the act. Sierra Romero, Kelly Christner, Sierra Lawrence, Kelsey Susalla, Aidan Falk, Amanda Vargas, and Taylor Swearingen all scored at least two runs. Lawrence, Falk, Vargas, and Swearingen all drove in at least 3, and Tera Blanco drove in 2. Vargas and Swearingen both homered twice, and Falk once.
The combined final scores for the 3-game series were M 46, OSU 2. That's M 46, OSU 2. M 46. OSU 2. Heh.
The softball team is at it again, beating OSU's faces into the ground. The Wolverines lead 9-0 in the top of the 4th on the strength of 5 hits, including long balls from Sierra Romero, Kelsey Susalla, and Amanda Vargas, who chipped in with her first career grand slam! OSU will need to plate some runs in the next couple frames if they want to avoid an early ending.