South Bend Wolverine
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|3 days 23 hours ago||Not really understanding the||
Not really understanding the disappointment with this scheduling move. Army is a historic team with a lot of tradition, a team that it's easy to respect, and a team that - well, if Harbaugh doesn't have us easily beating teams of Army's caliber by 2019, things will have gone badly wrong. Every team has one or two easier opponents on the non-conference schedule, and this is about as good of one as you can ask for.
|3 days 23 hours ago||Just got word that my friends||
Just got word that my friends and I got tickets to the Maryland game! It'll be the first UM game I've taken in in person since the hail mary/OT win against NW - Gardner's home debut as a starting QB. Seems like a million years ago. Can't wait to see the beginning of a new era!
|2 weeks 5 days ago||Regarding the hockey jerseys,||
Regarding the hockey jerseys, I enjoy a few different variations - script, diagonal, block M, etc.. One thing I am looking forward to about Nike, though, is higher quality jerseys available for purchase. I have two hockey jerseys, one a Maize block M from the last days of Nike, and it's great. It's solid, durable material and it looks really sharp. My other one is from after the transition - it's the white jersey with "Michigan" across the front, but not with the M that looks different. It's fine, but the material is light & kinda flimsy, and you can see whatever shirt I'm wearing under it through the fabric. If Nike brings back the high-quality jerseys they had before, I'll buy a blue one to fill out the set & be very happy to do so.
|3 weeks 5 days ago||Sierra Romero & alum Amanda||
Sierra Romero & alum Amanda Chidester are world champions, representing the Red, White, and Blue! Great day for American women, and a rough one for the Japanese, in two different sports.
|4 weeks 21 hours ago||Yes, this is firmly in "good||
Yes, this is firmly in "good problems to have" territory for us here! I agree that Monte will be the hardest-pressed of the returning players to retain her spot in the order. She became a reliable on-base player last year, but she doesn't have the game-breaking potential that most of the rest of the line-up has. Swearingen does have the kind of power, so if she shows she can do it consistently & against the best teams, she could give Monte a real run for her money. She's probably the one pushing from behind that I'm the most excited about, although that's just my perception - it's great players all around, for sure, and any of them could easily grab a spot.
The great thing is that everyone knows that nothing is guaranteed. If you don't work hard, someone else *will* take it, and you'll move down or out. That'll keep everyone motivated to get better every day, which is all that Hutch ever wanted anyhow - another chance to get better. :)
|4 weeks 23 hours ago||I'll make a start at this||
I'll make a start at this with a proposed way-too-early line-up:
1 - Sierra Lawrence, OF
P - Betsa/Driesenga/Blanco/Crockett (in order of priority)
Monte & Sobczak are by far the most vulnerable in that line-up, being pushed by Swearingen & Vargas. Monte will probably have to lift her game some. Her on-base improved greatly as she became very disciplined this past year & drew a lot of walks, using her small frame to her advantage. I think Romero will stay high in the order to take advantage of her ridiculous OBP, especially with all the power that's coming right after her. I could see Abby Ramirez moving into the lead-off spot, and everyone else moving down one, after how well she did last year, but I really like her in the 9-spot, flying a little under the radar & turning over the order.
|4 weeks 23 hours ago||That's a good question -||
That's a good question - probably depends on a few factors in terms of her development as a pitcher & how the catcher situation works out. If things develop on what I would consider the "ideal" trajectory, Sobczak wins the catcher job from the get-go, like Sweet did, and we establish great continuity at that position going forward. Blanco, meanwhile, develops as a pitcher & focuses there rather than at 1st base, but continues to swing a good bat. She could then move to the DP role in games where she isn't pitching, like Haeger did for Florida. Aidan Falk, who mostly DP'ed this past year, is listed on the roster as 1B/OF, so she could then become the 1st baseman.
If things go differently, like Blanco doesn't develop as a pitcher the way we want or if Sobczak isn't ready to take over the catcher role right away, things could get shuffled around. Blanco might stay at 1B, or one of the freshman could take the job (Faith Canfield, a utility player from California, might be a candidate). Amanda Vargas could also be a name to keep an eye on in the infield - a rising sophomore, she played well in limited opportunities as a freshman, and could push for more playing time going forward. Taylor Swearingen is also in a similar situation - she's listed as 1B/3B, but for some reason I thought she was an OF (she has the build for the outfield for sure).
In short, there are lots of good options, which is really encouraging. Hutch will probably tinker a lot during the non-conf before settling on a line-up, and talent will have a great chance to rise to the top.
|4 weeks 1 day ago||Fan-TASTIC news! This||
Fan-TASTIC news! This resolves the biggest question heading into 2016, which was the issue of a second big-inning pitcher behind Betsa. Now Blanco & Crockett can get their innings in without having the pressure of carrying the whole load, and they can develop at whatever rate turns out to be comfortable, rather than just being lobbed into the fire.
The only remaining question now is catcher. I think the two prime candidates are Aidan Falk, who caught while Sweet was out this past year, and Alex Sobczak, an incoming freshman catcher who has been dominating against Michigan HS pitching of late. I could see that going either way, depending on how quickly Sobczak catches up to the college game (Michigan HS softball isn't the stiffest of competition for elite players).
Either way, I think the cream will rise to the top in this position battle - one of these two players will end up being a solid defensive catcher who can also put up numbers at the dish. She might not be Lauren Sweet, but could come pretty close. Apart from that, the entire rest of the offense & defense is back. 2016 is going to be serious fun.
|4 weeks 4 days ago||FYI, it looks like they're||
FYI, it looks like they're streaming all the games for the tournament - this link should have it: http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Softball/Events/2015/June/29/World-Cup-of-Sof...
Romero just got a single in the B3; Amanda Chidester had a hit & a run earlier & is coming back up to the plate. USA leads Mexico 2-0.
|4 weeks 4 days ago||My favorite players as a kid||
My favorite players as a kid (Fedorov) and as an adult (Lidstrom)! Two phenomenal talents who brought great glory to the city of Detroit, glad to see them enshrined as they deserve.
|6 weeks 2 days ago||Great to see that she'll get||
Great to see that she'll get more opportunities in the circle. A great pitcher for sure. I really wish there were an NPF team in my area, because I'd definitely go check out a game or two, especially when Michigan grads are playing. Maybe in the future. Regardless, that video was a great little tribute to Haylie & really shows how much the game & this school have meant to her personally. We don't always see that side of things, and people joke about it, but at it's best, sports changes lives for the better - that's why another coach of ours likes to sign things "sincerely yours in football". :)
|7 weeks 49 min ago||Very exciting news, thanks||
Very exciting news, thanks for posting! A few years down the road before she'll be wearing Maize & Blue, but even so. The improvement in offenses notwithstanding, softball is still a sport where one or two elite pitchers make a huge difference. Knowing we've got the potential for one coming in down the line is huge.
|7 weeks 2 days ago||Good for her. She had a||
Good for her. She had a winding road at Michigan, from freshman ace to injury-riddled sophomore to junior ace to senior 2nd pitcher, at then back to ace at the very end. She worked hard through all of it, though, and represented Michigan in a great way. Her tearful interview after the final Florida game said more than anything else about her love for the school & the team. I'm glad to see that she'll have the chance to do some more great things in softball going forward.
On another note, I see Romero heading off the the national team camp - when is she going to rest that wonky elbow?! :) The work these women put themselves through is just unbelievable.
|7 weeks 4 days ago||As someone who splits time||
As someone who splits time between supporting Sweden & the US in soccer, this is a big day for me. The US side of my heart is happy with the result, because it puts the US in a great position. The Swedish side, though (which was more prominent during that game), is livid. Sweden was good in attack, especially on set pieces (2 goals from corners), but that had as much to do with Nigeria's bumbling goal-keeper, who hardly got her hands to a single set-piece ball all game. The Swedish defense was horrendous, and in the 2nd half looked exhausted. Over and over again sprinting Nigerian attackers left jogging Swedish defenders in their wake. To be honest, Sweden was the team lucky to escape with a draw, not Nigeria. If the game was 100 minutes instead of 90, Nigeria would surely have won.
Turning now (as we near kickoff) to my US affections, things set up great. Neither Nigeria nor Sweden took a major initiative in the group. Sweden's defense looks very exploitable, and Abby Wambach will have an absolute field day against Nigeria, who looked extremely vulnerable to set-pieces. If the US can seize the initiative tonight, making the knock-outs in a strong position becomes a very achievable goal.
|7 weeks 5 days ago||Thanks for the update! Do||
Thanks for the update! Do you know anything more about what the deal was with those transfers? Losing highly touted players to major rivals doesn't sit too well...
|7 weeks 6 days ago||There is; unfortunately it||
There is; unfortunately it doesn't usually get covered very well, even by MGoBlue.com. We usually play the directional schools & beat the tar out of them. This past year we had what was billed as a "fall super regional" - a three game set with Kentucky, which we got the better of. It would be nice if, after all the attention the team generated this year, they could keep us a little better updated on the fall ball business - in the past sometimes we've had to wait days just to get scores of the fall games; box scores, recaps, etc. often never come through at all.
|8 weeks 1 day ago||Those are some great||
Those are some great questions, I wish I had the information to answer them better! I haven't seen any video of either Blanco or Crockett, so it's hard to say. Blanco pitched a few innings for us this year in relief against inferior opposition in blow-out situations, so it's tough to extract much from that, information-wise, and Crockett still just played at the HS level.
Hutch's comments about Crockett don't worry me too much, since she hasn't even gotten coached by our staff directly yet - she isn't expected to be able to just walk straight onto a college field & pitch tomorrow. The Blanco comment seemed a little more pointed ("we didn't bring her here to play 1st base"), and makes me wonder. I don't want to speculate too much, though, just on one comment, which could just be motivational.
The one thing we do have going for us is that our pitching coach is one of the best in the nation. She's churned out All-American after All-American over an extensive career. I wish I knew more about the training regimen, but I'm sure that if anyone knows how to draw quality pitching out of an athlete, it's her. She could have one or both of them ready by next season; if Driesenga is back next year, though, that basically buys her another year to work with, at which point I'd be really confident that she'd have things in order.
|8 weeks 1 day ago||Thanks for linking - if||
Thanks for linking - if they're confident enough that it'll work out to put it in print, I have to imagine it would take something last-minute to derail it at this point. Having Driesenga back is a game-changer, and would immediately put us in the thick of the WCWS title discussion for 2016.
Also interesting in that article is Hutch not pulling any punches on Blanco & Crockett. Long summer ahead for those young women, hope they're ready to attack the art of pitching with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind!
|8 weeks 1 day ago||Softball pitching is vastly||
Softball pitching is vastly less abusive on the body than baseball pitching, so you don't use a big staff like in baseball. For a long time, the best teams would rely on one ace pitcher for almost all important games, especially in the tournament. Now it's becoming more of a staff sport a) as there are more good pitchers out there to recruit and b) as hitters are getting much better, and so the ability to give teams a different look from game to game or inning to inning becomes more valuable. Ideally, you want 3 pitchers who you can trust to face quality opposition, 1 or 2 of whom you'd like to be truly elite. There aren't really enough innings to go around for more than 3, certainly not more than 4. 2 is workable (Michigan did so this year after Driesenga's injury), but it puts you closer to the edge in the event of an injury or a team that gets dialed in to your frequencies.
|8 weeks 1 day ago||Depends heavily on how you||
Depends heavily on how you feel about the Fab Five, I'd say. I don't want to turn this thread into a Fab Five discussion, so I'll leave it that - for those who remember the good parts of the Fab Five, they'd probably be right in there as well.
|8 weeks 1 day ago||Thanks for putting this||
Thanks for putting this together, WD. The perfect WD tribute to a great (not just good, GREAT) Michigan team. The scary thing is that almost everyone who was involved with those records is coming back next year. If we can straighten out the catcher situation with someone with a good bat & figure out a 2nd pitcher, next season should be of very similar vintage to this one.
|8 weeks 1 day ago||1997 hockey and 1973 football||
1997 hockey and 1973 football would be other prime contenders. The fact that '73 still stings nearly a half-century later, and even for people who weren't yet born, gives some indication of the rarified air softball's Team 38 is in.
|8 weeks 2 days ago||No need to be hesitant||
No need to be hesitant putting your emotions for this great team out there. Losing this one hurt bad, there's no two ways about it. For me I think it's because a) this team was so insanely lovable and b) our little MGoBlog softball community, which has been strong for awhile, seemed to really come of age this year, especially in the playoffs.
By the time all was said and done, I cared as deeply for this team as I have for any team, any sport I've ever followed. Also, any Michigan fan can totally relate to your final sentence. It's been brutal.
|8 weeks 2 days ago||The battery is definitely the||
The battery is definitely the big ? for next year. I fully believe that Megan Betsa will be back & better than ever, and she'll be a great leader. The days of one pitcher doing it all, though, seem to be behind us - it's a staff sport nowadays. If Driesenga is back, that's huge for us. Otherwise we're looking for big contributions from Blanco or Crockett (incoming freshman) to help us out. If one of them develops quickly, it'll be great fun.
The other side of the equation is losing 4-year catcher Lauren Sweet. While she had a great year at the plate, I'm not *too* worried about replacing her production offensively. Incremental improvements from Blanco, Falk, Vargas, and Swearingen (I have her tabbed as a potential break-out star) should cover up that issue in the middle of the order. Her defensive contributions, though, are easy to overlook. She gunned down plenty of runners this year, and she's known to have a real talent for communicating with pitchers, keeping them steady, backing up pitches that get away, etc. Who will the new catcher be who fills that role defensively?
If we can answer those 2 questions successfully, matching or exceeding Team 38's achievements is a real possibility. For more of my thoughts, tune in to my 2016 Season Preview (upcoming in 8 months or so!).
|8 weeks 2 days ago||As I understand it, the||
As I understand it, the batter is not allowed to step on home plate and is not allowed to have a foot fully outside of the batter's box (we actually got a huge call in our favor earlier in the tournament when an opposing batter stepped all the way out & made contact, ending a threat). You can have part of your foot out, but not the whole thing.
Regarding hit-by-pitches, you don't have to get out of the way, but you can't lean in. A couple of Florida's HBPs tonight were definitely legit, at least once or twice they clearly leaned in, and a couple others were borderline. It sounds like this is something the rules people are going to look at, because it's just disgusting watching a team make leaning in part of their strategy (especially a team as good as Florida - they shouldn't need to). 2 of the top 3 HBP-getters in the country play for the Gators, which doesn't feel like a coincidence. I don't like taking the toughness element of taking one for the team out of the game, but we can't have people leaning their way to championships.
|8 weeks 2 days ago||I'll put here what I posted||
I'll put here what I posted for my friends to see on Facebook:
I really want to be bitter and angry about a brutal end to a great season, but I refuse to do it. The 2015 Michigan softball team is the greatest since I started following. They were exciting, they were fun, they set records, they sang and danced and made pizza. I'll never forget this team, and I'm so grateful to have had the privilege to see them in person 5 times and to help cover them for MGoBlog. It was a indescribably privilege to be a part of it.
And, just for MGoBlog:
Guys, thank you - all of you, from the die-hard nuts like MGoSoftball, WD, Wendyk5, justingoblue, and the others who were tuning in all the way back during fall ball to those of you who joined in these past few weeks. Above all, thank you to Brian, Seth, and Ace for letting me use their space to write my articles. As a kid, I always wanted to be in sports media, but my life has gone another way, one I'm very happy with. Getting to live out a little bit of that childhood dream is really special for me, though, and doing it on behalf of such a phenomenal bunch of Michigan women is just more than I could ask for. Thank you.
|8 weeks 2 days ago||Ballgame. Later, guys, gotta||
Ballgame. Later, guys, gotta go walk this off. Brutal game. Thanks to everyone who joined in on these threads, it was a blast.
|8 weeks 2 days ago||Romo grounds into a fielder's||
Romo grounds into a fielder's choice. 1 out left to work with, Christner comes up with 2 down once again.
|8 weeks 2 days ago||Called strike 3, 1 away, Romo||
Called strike 3, 1 away, Romo coming up.
|8 weeks 2 days ago||Infield hit for Abby, and the||
Infield hit for Abby, and the lead-off is on.