Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Now that the season is over and we are all disappointed with how it ended, let us review the season and maybe this will ease your broken heart. In the tournament, the lack of hitting was our downfall not the lack of pitching. We made a few errors but not enough to change the direction of the game. The UK pitcher was nothing special but we just could not seem to get the bats going.
The season started out well. We were on a roll. We beat Zona, ASU, and ND. It seemed like a trip to the WS was our destiny. Then the Big 10 schedule hit. We had a 4 or 5 game slump and hardly beat some bad teams. We lost to Indiana, at home, which we should have won. Hutch had the girls take extra BP for the entire week and that seemed to help because the rest of the Big 10 season was awesome. In particular, the double mercy rule wins over tosu and Lil’ sister made us proud. It looked like we peaked too early; because as soon as the tournament started, our bats went cold again.
The opening day roster was significantly differently than the final game roster. The two major changes were due to injury to Stephanie Kirkpatrick and Nicole Sappingfield. The season would have ended different had these injuries not occurred.
Overall the 2011 season was a success despite this year was a “rebuilding” year. We started the season out of the Top 10 and slowly climbed our way to the #1 ranking before losing the very next weekend. Here are my awards to the players:
My choice for “Wolverine of the Year (MVP)”: Jordan Taylor. JT became Michigan’s all-time leader in wins and strikeouts. This is remarkable considering Hutch uses the platoon system in the regular season. Had JT pitched in more of the Big 10 games, she would have shattered both records. JT finished with a 31-5 record with a 1.51 ERA.
My choice for “Leadership Award”: Amanda Chidester. Chiddy led the team in RBIs (75) and BA (.423). She was selected as the 2011 Big 10 Player of the Year. She was a beast since moving to 3rdbase after the injury to Stephanie. Chiddy was the most vocal person on the team. She never got down and was always the first one to lead the team in cheers.
My choice for “Power Award”: Ashley Lane. Ashley came out of nowhere to lead the team in just about every power-hitting category at one point or another during the season, including several grand slam home runs. She finished a team high 18 HRs, and Slugging % and second in RBIs (71). She was my selection for All-American but fell just short; probably due to her high strike out count. Usually high strikeouts are not a problem but Ashley took too many called 3rdstrikes.
My choice for “Golden Glove and Co-Spark Plug”: Bree Evans. Bree is a prototype lead off hitter. She led the team in hits (86) and also had a 19 game hit streak. She was awesome in Center Field as well posting a perfect 1.000 fielding % out of 37 tries.
My choice for “Co-Spark Plug”: Nicole Sappingfield. Colie is another prototype lead off hitter. She bats from the left side and has speed too. She broke the school record of a 20 game hit streak.
Other player notes:
Stephanie Spiereman is the number 2 pitcher and could be a number 1 on most pitching staffs. She does not have the speed nor control of JT but she is fun to watch nonetheless. Spidey is only a sophomore so she will get better with her control.
Dorian Shaw started the season with a bang. She was leading the team in HRs and RBIs. Then when the team hit a slump at the start of the Big 10 season, Dorian just could not get it going again. Hutch moved her down in the line-up to shake things up, and it did not seem to help much.
Amy Knapp stepped in to play SS when Kirkpatrick was injured. She did a wonderful job. Her fielding percentage was a team 3rdat .965.
Lyndsay Doyle was thrust into the #2 spot and playing LF when Colie twisted her knee. She did a very good job and had a hot bat the final 6 games, batting over .400. It sure was nice to see her step it up.
Sr. Alycia Ryan, Sr. Marley Powers and Fr. Caitlin Blanchard all played well. Caitlin was the DP until Kirkpatrick’s injury force Amy to SS and Chiddy from catcher to 3rdbase.
Next years line up:
- Bree Evans CF
- Colie Sappingfield LF
- Ashley Lane 2B
- Amanda Chidester 3B
- Stephanie Kirkpatrick SS
- Lyndsay Doyle RF
- Caitlin Blanchard C
- Mandy Gardner 1B
- Amy Knapp DP
I will be posting profiles of the incoming freshmen later in the week. We have an awesome recruiting class that should improve the team as compared to this year. I know it is difficult to lose a power pitcher in JT but next year will be better.
Thanks to all the Seniors for your dedication to the school we love.
The Indiana Hoosiers kept pace with Michigan softball for 1st place by taking 2 from Illinois at Urbana today. The first game was a mercy rule 8-0 win in 6 innings and the second game Indiana won 3-1.
Those 2 wins against Illinois were key for Indiana because Illinois is currently ranked 5th in the Big Ten. Indiana has remaining on their schedule home vs Iowa, at Northwestern and they close the Big Ten schedule with a home series against Purdue. Purdue is currently ranked 3rd, while Iowa is ranked 4th.
So Indiana has a tougher remainder to their schedule compared to us. We play the bottom half of the conference for the remainder of the season.
The Michigan softball team dropped one spot in both the Coaches Poll and the USA Softball Poll. Both have us at #2. This is not a surprise as we lost to Iowa while Arizona State beat a very good Arizona team, 3 straight. 'Zona was a top 10 team heading into its series with arch-rival ASU.
The top 5 are: 1) ASU, 2) Michigan, 3) Texas, 4) Georgia and 5) Tennessee/Florida. There seems to be some debate over the number 5 slot. Florida just came off a awesome series against Alabama where they took 2 of 3. 'Bama was a top 5 team this past weekend.
This is GREAT news because there was some concern that we would drop to #3 because Iowa is not ranked. Where as the others in the top 5 have been playing ranked teams.
The rest of the schedule is awesome for us. We play at Wiscy (DH), then we come home to Minny (DH), tosu (DH), EMU and a home and home against Lil' sister to wrap up the regular season. The remaining conference opponents have a combined 14 wins, whereas we have 10 conference wins. EMU is struggling this year.
So here is the bad news. JT is out; probably for the reminder of the regular season. This means that Spidy and Maj. Payne will have the honors. If we lose any of the upcoming games, we will need a MGo-Parachute to help stop the free fall. We will get killed in the polls because the Big 10 is a weak conference, coupled with the fact that a loss will come from the bottom of said weak conference. It is possible that we could loose a home site for the regionals.
Let's just hope that Spidy can get her game together and not need a bailout early in any game. A last inning or two relief should not hurt but if she gets into trouble early, Lord help us.
While watching the women's softball team today I started reading about Carol Hutchins and realized that not only was she from Lansing, but she used to play softball and basketball for Michigan State. I started wondering how she feels now and how she stuck around so many years... how did MSU not lure such a wonderful coach back to her original turf? Well, I found an article from The Michigan Daily that answered my questions and made me lover Carol Hutchins even more than I already did. I hope you enjoy as much as I did.
MAKING THE TRADITION YOUR OWN
Carol Hutchins used to be a Spartan. And every year, someone makes sure she doesn’t forget that.
“To this day, the week of the Michigan State game, people ask me who I’m rooting for. And I’m just appalled,” she says, sitting in an office with a giant, stuffed wolverine on top of the bookshelf. “I always tell them, I always root for Michigan State to come in second.
“But I’m just appalled people ask that question. To me, it’s a stupid question.”
She gestures to her navy blue warm-ups.
“Clearly. I’m blue. What part of me looks green?”
It’s a dumb question because it would be like asking if Bo Schembechler had still cheered for Miami (Ohio) over Michigan. Hutchins, a two-sport Michigan State student-athlete, has invested 26 years building a program from the ground up in Ann Arbor. It doesn’t matter if you come here from the outside, she says. The real issue is whether you take ownership of the tradition.
And she uses a example from East Lansing to prove that point.
“Years ago, Nick Saban was the football coach up there,” she says, referring to the nomadic coach who, in the past 10 years, has coached at Michigan State, Louisiana State, the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and Alabama. “And I used to say to my former colleagues and friends, that’s the difference between a Michigan Man. Because Lloyd Carr would never bolt to go to some other university, because he’s at the greatest university on the planet.
“The people who are at Michigan believe that Michigan’s the place to be, and embrace that and live it.”
Ron Kramer says that the Wolverine tradition is different than other schools, simply because it has been canonized more than any other. And Hutchins does her part to make sure her Michigan Women realize they are stepping stones in that Michigan legacy.
She talks to her freshmen at the beginning of each year about the honor of wearing the block ‘M’. She requires new team members to write a research paper about the Michigan softball players who wore their jersey number before them.
And if her athletes won’t cherish the importance of the tradition, Hutchins eventually gives them an ultimatum. You don’t just get to wear the block ‘M.’ You’re not entitled to it just because you worked hard in high school.
For those reasons — even with the 2005 National Championship on her coaching résumé — her favorite story from her time in Ann Arbor isn’t during a game.
It was after Stephanie Bercaw hit a two-run, game-winning homer to push Michigan into that year’s Women’s College World Series finals.
“Everybody thinks all these athletes are on full rides, but this kid was on like, not very much, and out-of-state tuition is enormous,” Hutchins says of the Wooster, Ohio native. “But … she came here and hit a home run that put us into the national finals. And on the podium at this press conference, they asked her, ‘Is this the greatest moment of your life?’
“And she said, ‘No. The day I got to sign a scholarship to go to Michigan was the greatest day of my life.’ ”
And congrats to UM pounding Purdue today!
The Michigan Softball team gained 1 first place vote in the USA Today/Coaches poll released today. Although we did not move up in rank, we picked up more points. Last week Georgia was #4 but they jumped over us by a convincing win against #2 Florida. This is the first time in a very long time that a PAC-10 School is not rated in the top 3.
Our 2 wins against a very good Northwestern squad proved huge. Many pick NW to finish 2nd in the B1G conference. The voters must have realized that, coupled with Georgia's leap-frog of us. Alabama finished #1 in the poll.
We play Bowling Green tomorrow and Indiana this weekend, all in A2. This should be 3 nice wins. Alabama, Georgia and Florida all play baby seals.