he grew a beard
As usual, when we need something positive to think about around here, we look no further than the softball team. This weekend the team took on a strong Kentucky squad coming off a trip to the WCWS last season in a three game set that has been billed as a "fall super-regional", in reference to the high quality of the matchup. The Wolverines dropped the first game of the set 6-3. Most of the Kentucky runs came against highly-touted freshman Tera Blanco, who gave up 4 earned-runs in one rough inning - not a big point of concern, as this was her first look at elite college hitting.
Game two on Saturday looked much better for the Wolverines, as the bats came alive in a big way. Junior superstar Sierra Romero went two-for-two at the plate, going long both times for 5 RBIs (Romo continues to put up video-game numbers, with a 6-8 weekend at the plate that included 4 home runs - you read that right, she homered twice as often as she was retired). Lawrence, Sweet, and Blanco all homered as well, and Lawrence sparkled in her newfound role as the leadoff hitter. A .351 hitter last season, Lawrence went 6-for-12 on the weekend.
The rubber game was played earlier this afternoon, and the Wolverines did not disappoint. The long-ball was again the story, as Romo delivered her third and fourth blasts of the weekend, along with one each from Montemarano & Driesenga.
All told, a solid weekend against a very good opponent. We'll want to see more from the pitching/defense in the regular season, but with Hutch spreading around the innings to some extent, especially in the first game, there is nothing to worry about, especially with such a deep and talented staff.
Anyone go to the games & have insights to offer?
The Michigan Softball team has released their fall ball schedule for September/October. For you MGoBloggers in Northern Michigan, the weekend of September 27-28 features four games against Western Michigan, Central Michigan, and Oakland U at Traverse City West High School in Traverse City, Michigan. This is a great opportunity to see college softball up close for only a few dollars (supports HS athletics in the Grand Traverse area) and interact with the players, as the setting of the games is quite intimate. It's also a chance to see the five Michigan freshmen for the first time: IF/OF Aidan Falk, IF Taylor Swearingen, IF Amanda Vargas, OF Nikki Wald, and P Tera Blanco. Blanco joins the three returning Michigan pitchers from last year: seniors Haylie Wagner and Sara Driesenga, and sophomore Megan Betsa. The vacant 1B position left open by the departure of Caitlin Blanchard should be a battle between the lanky Swearingen and Falk, who could also slot in out in the outfield.
For those of you closer to Ann Arbor, there will be a three game series against the Kentucky Wildcats on October 4 and 5 at Alumni Field. Kentucky holds a #6 ranking nationally and is coming off a Women's College World Series appearance. Michigan won the lone meeting last year, upsetting Kentucky 3-0 behind a dominant perfomance on the mound from Haylie Wagner. This fall series, which is FREE ADMISSION, is must-see softball. Normally a three game series between #10 and #6 is a Super Regional matchup. This is going to be good, competitive softball.
If anyone has any questions or needs more info, I'm happy to help, and you can also check out the link below. I hope to see some of you either in Traverse City, or out at Alumni Field! Go Blue!
Men's Cross Country
First year under new head coach Kevin Sullivan
Ranked #22 in pre-season poll.
Opened with a non-scoring Michigan Open, where they mostly just ran as a group.
Stated as heading to Kentucky Invitational in Lexington this Saturday but for some reason it's not listed on their schedule. Black and Gold Invitational in Iowa City on September 20th would be next.
In news relating to everyone's favorite non-revenue sport (well, my favorite anyhow), the outlines of the 2015 schedule have been released. I say outlines because the tournaments we'll be playing in have been announced, but not the specific opponents/dates/times yet in terms of most of the non-conference slate. As usual, though, Michigan will be taking some challenging road trips including visits to FSU, Alabama, ASU, the Judi Garman Classic, and the lidlfter at USF.
Getting those challenging experiences in during the non-conference schedule will be, if anything, even more crucial than usual, as the Big Ten slate Michigan has been dealt is just dreadful. Michigan will only face one of the four possible opponents who made the NCAA tournament last year (the defending B10 Tournament champions, Minnesota, on the road) and only one other team that even cracked the top half of last year's B10, Ohio State, who turned in an uninspiring 30-25 (13-10) record last year.
After that, things get really ugly, as Michigan faces three sub-.500 teams from last year's B10 in Iowa, Indiana, and PSU. Michigan also draws both newcomers, making road trips to Maryland and Rutgers. Maryland turned in a horrendous 11-35 (7-16, 9th in the ACC) campaign littered with embarassing losses. Rutgers fared better, going 34-17 in the AAC, but their record was stained by a number of bad losses as well, and they missed the NCAA tournament.
All in all, things set up very well for a battle-tested Michigan team to make a run at yet another Big Ten title, on the strength of Romero's bat & three experienced pitchers. There's a lot to replace on offense, but a ton of talent as always!
Aidan is an extremely talented, hardworking player, and I expect that she will be a regular starter next season at first base or in the outfield. MGoSoftball, perhaps a bit caught up in reverie after Aidan broke the NY state career home run record, went as far as to call her the next Romo. But regardless of her potential on the softball field, this story of her sister's illness makes it clear that we will have the pleasure of rooting for an outstanding young woman over the next four years.