Continuing the positve Maize & Blue momentum on the weekend from the BYU game, Team 39 saw it's first unofficial action of the year in their annual trip to Traverse City. Over the weekend the Maize & Blue took on CMU, WMU, and Oakland (who rode an auto-bid to a tourney spot last year) in a mini-tournament. The teams played a round-robin, followed by a championship game for the top two teams.
As expected, Michigan cruised through their over-matched opponents without any serious difficulty. All 4 games ended in shut-outs for the Wolverines, topping Oakland 12-0 & WMU 10-0 on Saturday. On Sunday, Michigan pounded CMU 9-0 before meeting WMU again in the championship game. An 11-0 run-rule thumping ended the weekend early. This is a tournament that Michigan should win every single year, but even so, doing so in such fashion is encouraging - especially the goose-egg on the scoreboard.
Stats are a little thin on the ground due to the fact that it's exhibition softball & only crazy people like me want stats, but a few stand out. Sierra Romero showed that she still has plenty of pop in her bat with a grand slam & Kelly Christner had multiple hits in several games. A wide variety of players tallied multi-hit games, proviing an early indication that last year's record-breaking offense should be carrying over into 2016.
Finally, the pitching couldn't be beaten - and it wasn't just Megan Betsa. Tera Blanco & Sara Driesenga also got significant playing time & got the job done. While you can't take much away from a walk-through like this weekend, if there is one positive to focus on, it is the pitching. The biggest question mark for 2016 is whether Blacno & Driesenga can fill some of the void left by Haylie Wagner, and this weekend was the first small step towards indicating that they might be able to do so.
Fall ball continues on Wednesday, Sept. 30 at Alumni Field. If you're in Ann Arbor, get yourself down there for a free sneak peek at the team! I'd love it if someone could go & let us know a bit about who's playing where, etc.
What better way to get over the malaise of realizing how much work is ahead of us in football (although major progress has clearly already been made & the rest is underway!) than a reminder of the payoff that patience can have? Carol Hutchins took over a program in a low place in the softball pantheon and built a perennial powerhouse in Ann Arbor, but it took her years of steady improvement to do it. Now we get our first glimpse of the 2016 edition of her work, although things will look very familiar to those fans who followed the 2015 season.
The team will play 6 fall exhibition games, 4 in a mini tournament in Traverse City against Oakland, WMU, and CMU (round robin + championship/consolation games) and 2 more in a home-and-home with Sparty. Not as exciting of a slate as last fall, when we hosted Kentucky is what was billed as a "fall super-regional", but it'll be a good chance to get a first look at the team. The number 1 question will be who is behind the plate on defense. If we settle in with a catcher early on, especially one with a solid bat, we're gonna have a good time.
So here in Salisbury, North Carolina we're celebrating our local girls team winning the Little League World Series of Softball. They are a great group of everyday kids with big hearts and drive. Two items of note:
After defeating the team from Rwanda, they noticed that the Rwanda players were carrying their personal equipment in their hands and as they had no bags for them. So, they pooled up money (ok, their parent's money, but still) and purchased bags and souvenir pictures for each Rwanda team member to take home.
The other item of note was their particular practice of "making pizza" during their games. Spread the sauce, sprinkle the cheese, etc. Wonder where they got that?
Edit: The Rwanda game was earlier in the week. Not the finals. Sorry for the confusion.
I've seen this mentioned a few times elsewhere, but I figured it warranted its own thread.
On Thursday 6/4, Athletics is holding a welcome-back party at Alumni Field for Team 38. Per MGoBlue:
The U-M community will gather Thursday to welcome the national runner-up Wolverines back to campus. A 3 p.m. arrival time is anticipated, and fans should gather at Alumni Field around that time. Michigan Athletics will communicate specific arrival details as soon as they are known. Text "SoftballReturn" to 54815 and/or follow @umichsoftball to get accurate, official information throughout the day on Thursday.
I know it's the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, but everyone that can come out should. It would mean a lot to the girls to have a full house to congratulate them on their tremendous season. Plus, a little bird tells me your favorite Alumni Band will even be there.
samdrussBLUE called for it, and it's true - we need a stay calm thread here, not a meltdown one. That game was frustrating as hell, and we missed some big chances, there's no denying it. Still, it's a series for a reason, and this team is not done playing. Last time we dropped the first game of a series, we went on to beat Minny 9-4, 9-1 (6 inn.) on the road. Last time we dropped the first game of a WCWS Finals series, we won the whole damn thing. Let's keep it together until this amazing team has battled through the final out. And even if the worst happens, we're going to tip our damn caps to these women who have worked wonders all year, not melt down. They deserve better.