Just a couple weeks after wrapping up another successful season (51 wins, B10 title, WCWS appearance, #6 ranking in final polls), some more good news for the softball team. Two players who will be joining the Wolverines this coming season were honored as the Gatorade Player of the Year in their respective states (Illinois & Georgia). One looks like a complete hitter, hitting for power & average very impressively, while the other looks to be another great pitcher. I'm especially excited about that, because if she produces immediately, we'll be the rare team that can throw 3 different pitchers successfully, and if it takes her a bit, she's got time to come along & play understudy to Driesenga & Wagner. The future remains bright under Carol Hutchins' guidance!
Softball Recruits Honored
Great news about the team, and even better news that they have created their own following here. How many sports sites have a dedicated group of softball junkies?
Right? There is no such thing as an offseason!
i don't know a damn thing about michigan softball, but the fact that the ASU thread has over 70 comments and this has only one makes me want to learn a lot more about the team and the program.
its always good to see the magnetism of michigan pulling kids from around the country and the world for that matter. good luck, ladies and go blue.
This site is definitely the place to be to learn more about the softball program, and I hope you enjoy taking advantage of that opportunity! We have (in my opinion) one of the top 2 coaches of all time in our dugout leading a perenially successful program, and a lot of young talent on the team right now bodes well for the future.
MGoSoftball is usually the go-to guy around here for softball info, and definitely knows more than I do about the team & the ins & outs. I imagine he'll post in more depth about some of our new recruits at some point as he's done before, and he always keeps us up to date throughout the season.
Also, if you live in or around Ann Arbor, check out a home game sometime - tickets are super-cheap ($5-7) and it's a great atmosphere. One of the best-kept secrets in family-friendly affordable entertainment.
MGoSoftball actually already did Hello posts for three 2013 Michigan softball signees:
I don't think he's yet covered the fourth member, Lindsay Montemarano. Here's an article on her committing to U-M—Seaford Softball Star Signs With Michigan—and another from last month: Seaford Softball Slugger Back in Force For Senior Run
Ahh, I'd forgotten that they'd already been done. Thanks for posting them here so folks can take a little more in-depth look! And thanks of course to MGoSoftball for the good work.
Here's hoping Abby can step in at second or third and have half as good a season as Sierra Romero did at short this year.
If she can be half as good as Romero, we'll be in very good shape! I'm also excited about some of our other young players who didn't get to play that much due to our huge offensive depth. Take Kelsey Susalla, who hit .315 & 5 homers while slugging .685 with an on-base of .393. She was basically just a pinch hitter this year, but I guarantee we'll see more of her in the years ahead.
Susalla is definetly one I am excited to see get more AB's. I thought she was more of an outfielder/first base player which means she would be stuck behind four very good players this coming year. The only true openings in the field are at 2nd and 3rd.
I think you're right about the position situation, given that Knapp & Lane are the only two players graduating who got major playing time. I see on the official roster that Sierra Lawrence is listed at both outfield and 2nd base. Perhaps she moves to the infield to take Lane's spot and Susalla plays in the outfield?
Very happy for the softball team. Hard work and understanding is everything :)
Seems like they are set up for an even bigger year next year. (Not that there is a lot of room to improve). The only concerns should be: 1) is anyone ready to step into the 5 spot in the lineup? Lane was a great hitter and Romero needs protection. I don't see any obvious candidates. 2) infield defense was a little shaky last year and Knapp was solid. Replacing 2 spots could prove difficult.
But a top 6 team bringing back their entire pitching staff and 8 of their top 9 spots in the lineup should start the year ranked VERY high, right?
I'm not too worried about replacing Lane's work protecting Romero for a couple reasons. First, I once watched a team intentionally walk her with a runner on first and no outs because they were just plain horrified of pitching to her. :) Second, while I doubt we'll replace Lane's power numbers right away, only 3 of our players hit under .300 last season, and one of those is Lauren Sweet, who had a light go on at the start of conference play and became fantastic for the 2nd half of the season. Blanchard actually protected Romero for much of last year, and I'd be happy to see her reprise that role.
The defense is a concern for sure. Romero improved massively over the course of the year, going from an initial liability to a great player by the end. However, that still leaves some holes and questions that I don't think will be answered until fall ball at the earliest. I do think our pitching will be better (good recruit + improvement in the current staff + Wagner hopefully won't have a season-long nagging injury), so hopefully that'll offset things.
It isn't so much protecting Romero as making them pay for putting her on base. (And no doubt Blanchard will continue doing a great job hitting 4th). I agree that normal improvement of Sweet and Lawrence might prove to be fine.
I also think the top 2 pitchers will both be noticeably improved next year. Sara looked much improved by the post-season. The trip to Ok City may have been most important for her and her confidence. And a healthy Wagner will be a nice 'addition'.
The idea of 3 potential pitchers, and another big hitter to their already potent lineup is amazing!
Hail! Can't wait for next season