Softbullets: Backs Against The Wall

Softbullets: Backs Against The Wall

Submitted by Ace on June 2nd, 2015 at 12:14 PM


It might be time for Haylie Wagner to start in the circle. [Fuller]

Until the gut punch, that felt familiar.

For the third straight game, Haylie Wagner pitched stellar scoreless ball in relief of a shaky Megan Betsa, and Michigan's powerful offense mounted a comeback. This time, however, the comeback stalled on third base; Sierra Romero didn't advance to home on a double-play attempt, and the final two Wolverine batters couldn't knock her in.

Now Michigan is left in the same position they were in 2005, facing consecutive must-win games against the defending national champs. We know it can be done, and while last night's loss stung, it was readily apparent this squad can hang with the Gators.

What: Michigan vs. Florida, Game 2 of Final Series (UF leads 1-0)
When: Tonight, 8 ET
Where to watch: ESPN or WatchESPN
Line: Chalk

Some scattered thoughts on last night's game and tonight's prospects, which is about the best I can muster at the moment:

ON ROMERO. One can only hope this series isn't defined by Romero's failure to break for home. It'd be a great injustice for a great player, especially because of the way Romero got to third base in the first place; she took a leadoff walk instead of trying to win the game on her own, then advanced to second with her usual heads-up baserunning on a passed ball before Kelly Christner's single.

When Kelsey Susalla hit the potential double-play ball, Romero hesitated, and that split-second of indecision gave her no choice but to stay at third. Yes, it cost Michigan a run on the play, but she still stood on third base with less than two outs. Michigan was still in a good position to tie the game; they just couldn't pull it off, and that's not all on Romero.

IT'S TIME. I'm not sure what else Wagner needs to do to show she deserves the start tonight. This should be enough:

Given the stakes, I don't think Michigan can afford to see if Betsa regains her confidence—and her ability to throw first-pitch strikes—before making a change, and it sounds like Carol Hutchins is thinking along those lines:

Hutchins confirmed what has been obvious, that Betsa is struggling with confidence, but wouldn't clearly indicate who might start Tuesday.

"She appears to have some confidence problems, I would say," Hutchins said. "We need our best confidence on the mound, I can tell you that. It's a long tournament hopefully, so we need to get her confidence back. There's no reason not to have confidence this point in the season. It's been a tough week so far."

I'd be surprised if Wagner isn't in the circle from the beginning tonight. There's little room for error, and even less so if Florida makes a pitching change of their own and starts national player of the year Lauren Haeger.

MICHIGAN ARGUABLY PLAYED BETTER. The Wolverines ended up with 11 baserunners, the Gators with six. Wagner nearly tied the game in the sixth when she cracked a ball just outside the left-field foul pole. Sierra Lawrence nearly did the same later that inning with a long fly that had the trajectory but not the distance, barely. After Betsa's struggles, Wagner shut down the Florida offense, and Michigan put up serious offensive threats in the final two innings.

While Michigan lost, they should still have confidence; this game swung on a few plays, and tonight those could easily go the other way.

THUMBS UP, ESPN. When ESPN announced they were adding Curt Schilling to the broadcast for the final series, I was worried the conversation would get bogged down in Softball 101 and how-can-we-compare-this-to-baseball. While there was a little of that, to be sure, I thought Schilling was a good addition to an already strong announcing crew. He showed a great appreciation for the game—which he's quite familiar with, thanks to his daughter—and his analysis was insightful while leaving room for his more experienced counterparts to lead the discussion and guide him when necessary.

The softball broadcasts have been all-around excellent, and it was nice to see Schilling fit right in. While he rubs some people the wrong way, he worked really well in this role.

I DIDN'T PLAN TO BE THIS EMOTIONALLY INVOLVED. At some point in the later innings last night, I realized I was more emotionally invested in the game than I had been for any Michigan sporting event since the Elite Eight game against Kentucky. It felt great, even without the desireable result. I'm no softball buff—like many of you, I started watching when the games hit national TV—but it's impossible to watch one of these games and not get hooked in by the skill, excitement, and emotion. These are world-class athletes hell-bent on making their games as fun as possible.

If it ends tonight, it's been a wonderful ride. I hope it doesn't end tonight.

Dear Diary With Sprinkles

Dear Diary With Sprinkles

Submitted by Seth on May 29th, 2015 at 12:49 PM

WCWS Update: The SEC walked into the WCWS in full ESS-EEE-SEE mode. You saw the 6th seed Bama last night; there's an entire bracket of SEC teams (#1 Florida, #5 LSU, #4 Auburn, and #8 Tennessee) opposite us. Last year Bama lost to Florida in the national championship series, and Florida is a favorite to repeat. In a sport dominated by pitching the Gators have the best, Lauren Haeger, who just narrowly defeated Michigan's Sierra Romero for the college softball version of the Heisman.

The rest of Michigan's side of the bracket is UCLA, which owns a third of the national championships ever, not including the 1995 one that the NCAA vacated, demonstrating a dedication to the sport most D-I teams athletic departments can't afford for football.

This is the dispersal (bigger dot = more national championships) of softball titles since 1982:

dispersal of softball championships

Some of these things are only somewhat like the others; one is definitively not.

The last member of our bracket is fully owned Nike™ subsidiary the Oregon Nikes, who wear spacey backpacks everywhere they go so Nike™ can convince a demographic of schoolgirls who wear stupid-looking athletic gear to school to get Nike™ backpacks. The Oregon Nikes also have a great pitcher who finished third in the PoY running.

A distant third. Really the competition was between the senior pitcher with 194 K's who held a league that hits .330 to .183, and our own Sierra Romero.

Romero. Yes I am making this whole column about softball this week. ROMERO! Here's what a hitter who challenges for the PoY in a pitching sport looks like: Romero hit .472 with 21 home runs, 80 RBI, 55 walks, and set the NCAA career grand slam record. She also had 20 steals on 24 attempts. She plays shortstop with a Jeter smoothness (or second base because Abby Ramirez is such a good infielder).

The thing about Michigan is Romero isn't the only star. Kelly Christner hit .407 this year and matched Romero for home runs. Sierra Lawrence had a .484 OBP from the leadoff spot, plus 14 dingers. Kelsey Susalla matched Sierra2's power numbers while hitting .379. Lauren Sweet, the catcher, hit .324 with 12 homers. Michigan too has great pitchers—sophomore Megan Betsa and senior Haylie Wagner are Ace 1 and Ace 2, with senior Sara Driesenga (.078 ERA) still around as a luxury, and the future, freshman Tera Blanco, waiting over at 1st base.

Theory: Jim Harbaugh has spent all of his free time since he graduated pretending to be a softball coach. Michigan softball isn't a monster program from the heart of baseball country, isn't a golem assembled from overcharging for shoes made by underpaid slaves, and certainly is not from the conference that believes Pat Forde columns about its greatness should fulfill writing requirements.

The thing it's best known for across the softball world is it has a pinata-smashing softball Harbaugh if Harbaugh was more successful coaching it. Betsa said she gets her mental toughness from competitions like who can balance heavy logs on their hands while doing workouts. Last night Hutch literally fell over while trying to put the breaks on Romero at 3rd base; Romero ran through it but scampered back safely to leave the bases loaded for Sweet to turn a 1-0 game into the 5-0 game.

106532234131639gal-harbs-raidershutchinsnativehuth

Present                                       1999                                          1986

Harbuagh/Hutch through the years

It had a .461 on base percentage this year, and outscored its opponents by an average of 9 to 1.5. It made making pizza into a theme, complete with complicated hand gestures and fan signage. It won a map-contradicting national championship ten years ago, and dances more often than that one. It led the country with 171 homers this year, and sprinkled every one of them with cheese.

sweethomercheese

Etc. The South didn't like Michigan camping there—and couldn't do anything about it—in the mid-1860s either. SEC rules changes troll Tom Brady and Brady Hoke, plus Notre Dame's faces and Dantonio's favorite tackling strategy. What a blue shirt is. Terry Frei on the Rob Lytle book. Michigan Stadium Movie Night opted for Disney fantasy flick (Remember the Titans) over a documentary on Scandinavian economics (Frozen).

Tu Quoque, Dear Diary

Tu Quoque, Dear Diary

Submitted by Seth on February 6th, 2015 at 11:11 AM

On Wednesday morning, under pressure to do so in time to headline a Signing Day ceremony at his school, Cass Tech running back Mike Weber decided on Ohio State over Michigan by the slimmest of margins. On Thursday, Weber's position coach and lead recruiter for Ohio State left for the Chicago Bears. Weber:

Weber

He also removed all references to Ohio State from his profile.

Michigan fans jumped on this because it's in our interest that every recruit and coach of a recruit and parent of a recruit believe Urban Meyer a slimy salesman (he's not). Ohio State fans jumped to defend it by characterizing Drayton's departure as a surprise to everyone including Drayton, and equating it with signing a junior transfer quarterback after Gentry's LOI was in.

When Ohio State does something shady (or not shady but treated as such in the weird morality of college sports), Ohio State fans will be the first to tell you that everybody does it. They're right to a degree, but the degree is the difference between how much heat the Earth radiates into space, and the Sun. Regardless of whether Urban knew Stan Drayton was leaving beforehand, or if Drayton knew he'd get the job until then, what's clear is they didn't let Weber know the coach he was committing to was likely to walk away as soon as they had his signature on the dotted line.

Purposely fraudulent or unbelievably unfortunate timing, the real lesson here is that coaches are free to make the best decision for themselves, and players are manipulated into signing away that liberty.

And for nothing. Signing Day, really, is only the first day of a period that stretches through April that schools may receive official commitments, in the form of a "Letter of Intent." That letter is merely a non-compete agreement in which the school the player signs with provides nothing in return. The scholarship offer is a completely separate deal.

Since Weber already sent in his LOI, his choices are to stay at Ohio State, wait a year for the LOI to expire then transfer and wait another year, or ask Ohio State to release him, in which case he still has to wait out a year under NCAA transfer rules CORRECTION: would be free to choose any school. Ohio State can hold him to the LOI, or release him only to schools they choose. They can also rip away his scholarship for just about any reason.

The recruits are finally starting to get wise. Roquan Smith is still unlikely to end up at "Michigan University," but he was moments from sending in his LOI when news (that reporters meant to embargo until after Signing Day) broke that his coaches might not be there. Because he waited, he can now take another week to consider his options.

A Florida commit's father yesterday explained why his son is holding off too, tweeting "…Florida making too many coaching changes this is not a game it's my son's life." He followed up in response to angry idiot-who-tweet-at-recruits fans with the central moral question:

ccjefferson

It's not, except in the warped morality of the NCAA and its apologists who think "amateurism" means players shouldn't be entitled to the same rights as every other citizen.

Signing Day is a total boondoggle. Recruits who have any sort of leverage should never sign a LOI, and should never feel pressured to commit on Signing Day. They should ask to sign a financial aid agreement only.

Meanwhile the NCAA should look at allowing players to transfer and play immediately if their head coach or primary recruiter leaves the school. It would prevent players from getting bait and switched, give coaches more job security, and ultimately plateau coaching salaries as schools come to value longevity instead of flashiness in their hiring of them.

How Karan Came. Michigan did get a highly rated running back in the class. Brian already linked to it in yesterday's recruiting post but if you missed it, Karan Higdon's coach is a MUST READ for anyone interested in how this process plays out:

I immediately called the Michigan football office and spoke with a secretary.  I told her that there was a running back in Sarasota that may be worth a late look and she advised me to send and email with his profile.  I sent his recruit profile and his HUDL highlights.  I was contacted almost immediately afterwards and spoke with Chris Singletary.  The first thing he asked was what type of kid is Karan and what his grades were.

Meta: Cumong! Brian's eye dialect for "come on!" has an origin. That diary is way more investigative and thorough than you thought it was when you saw it floating on the sidebar all week.

It also got me thinking about just how old this site is, and some of the other characters from Brian's section to be immortalized in these pages. Like "UNACCEPTABLE!" guy. And the narratively adorable moppet from the first great MGoBlog game column. That kid is probably in an English lecture right now. Which reminds me: happy 10th birthday, MGoBlog, belatedly (it was December 4).

Softball is Fun and Has a Woodson.

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Sierra's gloves are purely hypothetical by now. Photo: The Californian

Softball has been initialized. This year's team will have to overcome the graduation of a great class, but returns shortstop Sierra Romero and three candidates for best pitcher in the nation. South Bend Wolverine has your full preview, to which I'd like to add my take.

A great pitcher pretty much owns in softball, and Michigan is filthy rich in them. The lefty/righty combo of Haylie Wagner and Sara Driesenga could easily be the best duo in the country if both seniors regain their forms after somewhat disappointing (for them) 2014s. Sophomore Megan Betsa is due for a season on par with the best of the Wagner/Driesenga era. They also added the top pitching prospect in the nation in Tera Blanco out of California. Like Driesenga, Blanco is as dangerous at the plate as on the mound.

And there's Romero. As a sophomore, Sierra was one of three finalists for softball's version of the Heisman. Most of that is her Cabreraian bat, which is already bopping out national records. My favorite of those: Career Grand Slams—the NCAA record is nine; half-way through her Michigan career Romero already has seven (tied for third all time with 2005-'08 Wolverine Samantha Findlay).

Last year Sierra also finished tied for seventh all time for walks in a season with 67, 20 of which were intentional (the most you get is about 250 plate appearances so that's quite a lot of walking). Since Michigan graduated her protection and two top-of-the-order bats, we could end up seeing that number skyrocket if Coach Hutch doesn't find some hitters to fill the bases ahead of Romero and clear 'em behind her. If she does, this is a national championship team.

A Special Hell for Terrible Michigan Coaches

There is a place where they man-block with Patrick Omameh, run Denard Robinson under center, and never use counters. In this place they run a 3-3-5 defense that only ever rushes three and tells its middle linebacker to line up a foot in front of the guard whose job it is to put the middle linebacker in that spot. When they punt, and they punt quite often, they only use two gunners, because that's what NFL rules say.

No, this place isn't some nightmare mashup of the worst parts of the last six years of Michigan. It is called San Jose State.

  • Offensive coordinator: Al Borges
  • Defensive coordinator: Greg Robinson
  • Special Teams coordinator: Dan Ferrigno

I know I shouldn't watch. But I have to.

Etc. The first quadralingual med student to play for Michigan. We're gonna press.

Your Moment of Zen:

Preview: NCAA Ann Arbor Softball Regional

Preview: NCAA Ann Arbor Softball Regional

Submitted by Ace on May 16th, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Michigan softball is pretty darn good and they host an NCAA regional this weekend, which merits the preview treatment. Thankfully, we have a source who knows much more about college softball than me.

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT NCAA Softball Regional
WHERE Wilpon Complex/Alumni Field
WHEN Friday-Sunday, May 17-19
LINE Softball lines, junkie?
TV ESPN3.com (all games)

Right: Freshman slugger extraordinaire Sierra Romero.

THE SCHEDULE

The NCAA regional is a double-elimination tournament, so the only team Michigan is guaranteed to play is Valparaiso; if all goes chalk, Michigan would play Cal in Game 3 and go from there.

Time Game
Friday, May 17  
4:30 p.m. Game 1 -- Central Michigan vs. California
7 p.m. Game 2 -- Michigan vs. Valparaiso
Saturday, May 18  
Noon Game 3 -- Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
2:30 p.m. Game 4 -- Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser
5 p.m. Game 5 -- Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 winner
Sunday, May 19  
1 p.m. Game 6 -- Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner
3:30 p.m. Game 7 -- Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser (if necessary)

All games will be broadcast on ESPN3.com.

THE US


First-team All-B1G pitcher Sara Driesenga

Record: 45-10 (20-2 Big Ten, 16-0 Home)
Rankings: #7 USA Today, #8 ESPN, #8 RPI
Good wins (RPI): #11 Arizona State, #29 Arizona, #16 Texas A&M
Bad losses (RPI): #179 LIU-Brooklyn

Michigan mostly dominated in the Big Ten this year and fared pretty well when it came to facing ranked non-conference opponents (5-4, including wins against both Arizona schools), though they unexpectedly fell to RPI #24 Wisconsin in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. The Wolverines are the #8 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament (full bracket .pdf here)—as you'll see, however, they didn't get the easiest of draws.

The offense is led by shortstop Sierra Romero, who earned mention in this space last week after an astonishing freshman season earned her big-time accolades:

Kind of good, part two. Six(!) softball players were named first-team All Big Ten after Michigan roared through the league schedule 20-2. Sierra Romero was both the freshman and player of the year, Carol Hutchins coach of the year, etc.

Here is Romero's Big Ten slugging percentage.

1.125

!!!

Also her on-base percentage was .659. That is nuts.

Other batting standouts include 2B Ashley Lane (.385/.435/.698*), 1B Caitlin Blanchard (.399/.467/.534), and OF Sierra Lawrence (.347/.424/.578). Romero's full slash line for the season is a ridiculous .378/.514/.854—in other words, she reaches base on more than half of her plate appearances and hits with a ton of power (in 164 at-bats, she hit eight doubles, two triples, and 22 home runs, the last mark a school record). Leadoff hitter Lyndsay Doyle (.304/.429/.360) is a patient hitter with base-stealing speed (10/11 this year), while catcher Lauren Sweet (.267/.330/.545) provides some pop at the bottom of the order.

The pitching staff is very good but a step below dominant. Sophomore righty Sara Driesenga earned first-team All-B1G honors, posting a 26-6 record with a 1.81 ERA and 202 strikeouts in 205 innings pitched—her control (63 walks) keeps her from being totally dominant. Sophomore lefty Haylie Wagner is the #2 starter—she finished 18-3 with a 2.53 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 119.1 innings. Wagner is more hittable than Driesenga but exhibits much better control (only 15 walks all season).

THE THEM


Cal star pitcher Jolene Henderson (via)

This is where I stop pretending to know anything about softball and let our mysterious softball source take over the scouting. All of the actual scouting content below comes from a source who's asked to remain anonymous; I've only done minor editing for brevity and provided the intro.

VALPARAISO

Record: 34-25 overall, 11-9 Horizon (that's bad)
Rankings: #186 RPI
Previous meeting: none
Good wins: ??? (win over Iowa State is only major conference victory, beat also-bad Youngstown State for tourney title)
Bad losses: Detroit (five wins this year, tied for second-least in NCAA)

Their lineup is pretty straightforward, with three girls to look out for and one that possibly might be an issue. Their top batter is Brittany Duncan (.349/.478/.514), who I'm told the key against is to go low—she's a big girl that can go long on anything up high, so anything other than a well-executed rise would be ill advised (Wagner seems to be known more for that type of pitch than Driesenga).

The next two to worry about are Janelle Bouchard (.333/.376/.548) and Kaitlyn Ranieri (.322/.429/.399), but they're both freshman and aren't anything [redacted source] has seen in person or on film. My recollection from seeing a game in person is that Amanda Korb (.387/.406/.613) is capable of hitting well, and more or less abused the freshman version of a good pitcher throwing mostly rise and curveballs, but she's only been at the plate 31 times, which makes a current injury or injury from earlier in the year possible. [ED-Ace: I can't find anything to indicate an injury, so I think Korb is just a potentially underutilized pinch-hitter.]

Expect them to start pitcher Taylor Weissenhofer (20-11, 2.29 ERA), who is also a freshman, and is "not fast but spinny with back door curve. [Throws] a lot of curves and off speed pitches," according to my source.

CENTRAL MICHIGAN

Record: 33-18 overall, 18-7 MAC (better than 11-9 Horizon, but Cal should win easily)
Rankings: #95 RPI
Previous meeting: M 11-0 (5-inning game)
Good wins: MSU and PSU are the only major conference wins, although the bottom of the B1G is not "major" for softball purposes.
Bad losses: Nothing really sticks out, but seven losses in the MAC doesn't indicate a consistently good team, few losses in the high 100's RPI.

The box score on MGoBlue should be your main guide here, but I'll provide some color substance. Michigan saw Kara Dornbos (15-11, 2.47 ERA) and Kristen Kuhlman (4-2, 3.82) as the 1-2 in their last outing; expect Dornbos to start. She was pulled after giving up 8 ER in three innings at Alumni Field.

Batting wise, Wagner held CMU to two hits and Cal's Jolene Henderson is a better pitcher than Wagner. Either team should shut down a fairly mediocre MAC offense with relative ease. CMU did finish the year on a bit of a hot streak, winning 7/8 and going undefeated in the MAC tournament.

CALIFORNIA

Record: 36-17 overall, 10-14 Pac-12 (don't be fooled here—the Pac-12 has seven of the top 30 teams in the country based on RPI)
Rankings: #18 USA Today, #22 ESPN, #18 RPI
Previous meeting: none
Good wins: Won two of their three games against Arizona, beat #26 Baylor and #21 Hawaii in the same tournament. Otherwise struggled against top competition, going 3-12 against ranked Pac-12 teams when Arizona is excluded.
Bad losses: The only game that approached bad loss territory was a 1-0 loss to #77 Oregon State, but that came on the heels of two wins over the Beavers by a combined 11-1 score. As commenter Alton pointed out, I was looking at the wrong RPI sheet—Cal doesn't really have a bad loss this year.

Jolene Henderson's talent cannot be overstated, she is an absolute monster and will be up for Cal HoF or jersey retirement or whatever honors the AD over there gives out, with the only "dark spot" being that they were knocked out in the WCWS semifinal last year and she hasn't won a national title. She's arguably the number two pitcher in the nation (one is pretty well claimed), and that's where I would put her. Cal and LSU are the only teams through Super Regionals where Wagner and Driesenga will be outmatched talent-wise, in my opinion.

Henderson (30-9, 1.23 ERA) favors a curve, but has an excellent changeup when she can get her spots, and obviously can pitch just about anything. She does not have overwhelming (68-70mph in softball) speed, but obviously makes up for it in movement, accuracy and is praised universally for her poise. One thing that's very important to remember is that Henderson is coming off a knee injury; had she been healthy all year there would be a regional in Berkeley almost definitely.

[Addition from a later email: The better pitching evaluation for Jolene Henderson is that she does have top end speed (I've seen at least 70mph on the ticker, the world record for a single pitch is 75) and kills by pitching that in tandem with a killer changeup, 15mph difference at times. Curve evaluation would stay the same, excellent, probably above anything other than the fastball or the changeup, but her arsenal is deep and scary in general. This is me noting her confidence and poise again.]

Cal lacks the firepower to win a shootout with Michigan, which has a formidable batting lineup. If Michigan can score three or four, expect a win for M, although shutting down Cal completely is well within the abilities of either M pitcher if she can throw well that particular day, which will make a tough matchup for M's batting order much easier, obviously.

Khala Taylor is the number two batter in the order, and Cal's only slapper with a good set of statistics, batting a team high .342, slugging .386 (that's good for a slapper) with an on base percentage of .359 (not that great for a slapper, but respectable especially in a conference as strong as the Pac-12). Cheyenne Cordes is the leadoff with a not-so-great batting average of .325 but a good on-base percentage of .430. The catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt hits fourth, hitting .286, slugging a team-high .686 with an on-base of .377. Danielle Henderson (Jolene's sister) bats fifth and owns the team-high with a .432 OBP while batting .287 and slugging .510.
 
Cal is going to try and put Cordes on base any way possible, will likely have Khala try to force a tough decision with a light slap or a bunt (she's a former track star that probably beats out a play the defense assumes is a fielder's choice a lot) and then bring up Ziegenhirt and D. Henderson to hit for the fences. If Michigan can get through this group without giving up runs, they will do just fine. If that's not working, M falls into trouble quickly because hits and runs will be extremely tough to come by against the best pitcher they've seen all year.

I'd also add that MGoBlog's resident seeding/RPI/NCAA expert Alton had an opinion on Ann Arbor's seeding, where 8 M got 17 Cal, and in exchange got the equivalent of two four seeds. Neither CMU nor Valpo is a credible threat to advance. (Valpo upset Louisville last year, but lost their pitcher and several hitters to graduation.) Cal is quite possibly more likely to advance than any other two-seed in the tournament, and definitely is among the top eight seeds.

ELSEWHERE

ESPN has a broad overview of each of the regionals—here's their bit on Michigan, the proclaimed favorite to come out of Ann Arbor:

The favorite: No. 8 Michigan

Michigan stumbled on a couple of occasions down the stretch, but that didn't prevent it from clinching a coveted top-eight seed. A run-starved lineup that overachieved when it reached a super regional a season ago matured into a juggernaut, its slugging percentage climbing from .415 to .535. Some of that comes down to freshman star Sierra Romero (1.369 OPS), but five regulars are slugging at least .500, up from two a season ago. The difference between a team that can get to the World Series and one that can do something there may come down to what the Wolverines get from Sara Driesenga and Haylie Wagner in the circle. The staff's 2.92 Big Ten ERA is dicey.

Many thanks to our anonymous source for a remarkably informative preview—hopefully, if Michigan advances, we'll have much more coverage in the same vein.

--------------
*For those unfamiliar with baseball/softball slash lines, that's batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage.

Unverified Voracity Slugs A Lot

Unverified Voracity Slugs A Lot

Submitted by Brian on May 8th, 2013 at 2:42 PM

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aw hamburgers

Hello, Duke. Michigan draws a game at Cameron Indoor for next year's Big Ten/ACC challenge. Irritatingly, that's Duke's second consecutive home game and Michigan went on the road twice in a row in 2011 and 2010. But, hey, Duke. That likely concludes the big boy section of the nonconference schedule, which now reads:

  • @ Duke
  • @ Iowa State
  • vs Arizona
  • vs Stanford (N)
  • Hypothetical Puerto Rico slate: Auburn, Florida State/VCU, Georgetown/K-State

If Michigan doesn't get knocked into the crappy section of their tournament they'll have six games against quality high-major (or VCU, same thing) competition. Auburn doesn't count, and they may put Michigan with Long Beach State or Charlotte if they think those teams are actually worse than the Tigers.

That is some heavy lifting in the nonconference. It's not quite as heavy as Duke's epic schedule a year ago but as long as Michigan doesn't screw it up by putting a bunch of Binghamtons on the schedule they should have a quality nonconference SOS number.

That's resolved then. Jared Rutledge is officially headed back to the USHL for a year:

Red Berenson: "Rutledge is returning to junior hockey for a year. He will either come back here or transfer to another school."

Hockey is weird in that you can just do that and come back and it's like nothing ever happened. It does count as a redshirt year since his five-year clock started last year, so he will have three years to play three when he returns to college. Will he want to return to a place with two more years of Racine and three of Nagelvoort? I'm a little doubtful about that, but with the way Red is you know the door will be open.

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gone. gone. gone. gone. gone. gone. etc.

Kind of good, part two. Six(!) softball players were named first-team All Big Ten after Michigan roared through the league schedule 20-2. Sierra Romero was both the freshman and player of the year, Carol Hutchins coach of the year, etc.

Here is Romero's Big Ten slugging percentage.

1.125

!!!

Also her on-base percentage was .659. That is nuts.

No Wolverines made the All-Defensive Team, probably because they didn't have to dodge missiles from Romero.

You have destroyed all comers. The current tote board for the EDSBS charity bowl:

Team

Donations

Amount

 

University of Michigan

61

$4,462.88

 

University of Georgia

5

$731.23

 

University of Alabama

5

$671.14

 

Notre Dame

5

$657.98

 

Arizona State University

3

$466.34

 

Michigan State University

6

$423.66

 

Make Spencer Eat Cheese University

7

$414.14

 

Hillsdale College

1

$343.10

 

North Carolina State University

3

$300.42

 

Georgia Institute of Technology

3

$268.07

 

Case Western Reserve

1

$239.54

 

University of Florida

4

$202.36

 

Ohio State

2

$200.00

Our rivals feel decrepitude and shame, except the Notre Dame folk, who immediately start talking about African-American graduation rates because that's what they do after every setback in life. Impotent? But the graduation rates!

Here is a fairer tote board:

MICHIGAN: 4,462.88
REST OF BIG TEN COMBINED: 1009.96

Northwestern does get a point for having one donation for 54.51. /shakes fist

Punting will be just fine. Kyle Meinke saves me the trouble of filtering through Matt Wile's pooch-infested yardage record and coming up with the correct statistical profile we should use going into a season where he's going to be the obvious starter at the spot. Drumroll:

Filtering out pooch punts, Wile has averaged 42.6 yards on his 20 career attempts. That would have ranked 35th nationally last year, and third in the Big Ten behind Hagerup and Michigan State's Mike Sadler.

Wile blasted three Outback punts an average of 49 yards and dropped seven of his nine pooch punts inside the 20. He's mastered that drop-it-funny sky kick that's getting more popular these days.

So, yeah, Michigan will be fine. Given what we saw from Kenny Allen in spring they've even got a backup plan. I'd expect Wile to move over to kicker next year with Brendan Gibbons gone, leaving Allen and Hagerup to battle for the punter job.

Credit where it's due. Michigan's revenue blew up since 2009. Why? Hmm.

Michigan made $52.4 million in ticket sales in 2012, up from $37.5 million at the start of the boom in 2009. That's a 39.7-percent leap.

Going by the budget numbers:

CLUB/SUITE REVENUE, 2009: 0.
CLUB/SUITE REVENUE, 2010: $7.8 million
CLUB/SUITE REVENUE, 2011: $14.8 million

That's almost entirely Bill Martin's doing, along with the usual incremental increases in ticket price. The vast majority of the rest of it is the Big Ten Network, leaving things like The Big Chill being sponsored by Arby's and Let's Present This Basketball To A Middle Manager doing almost nothing other than paying for the salary of the guy Brandon hired to copy things from pro teams.

On the other hand, Brandon doesn't appear to be playing polo on a sailboat at critical junctures, so he's got that going for him. One day we will have an athletic director who has the faintest idea of what it's like to not be filthy rich.

Kameron incoming? A previously tentative suggestion that CA SF Kameron Chatman would visit Michigan is… well, still tentative.

“They said that they have an offer for me, they just want me to get on campus,” Chatman explained. “They don’t really like to offer without you being able to visit the campus and see what they really want. They said once I get on campus, they’ll offer me.

“I think my dad was talking about me going up there for my birthday, June 1st. They have a camp or something like that. I’m not sure right now, but I think I might go up there.”

He seems to have a hazy top three of Michigan, Oregon, and Washington, with Washington rumored a tenuous favorite. He's originally from Portland before he moved to Long Beach. Surprised MSU isn't involved since his AAU team is ICP Elite.

Meanwhile, 2015s won't get offered until June 15th, always the most interesting recruiting day on Michigan basketball's calendar these days. IL PG Hyron Edwards is likely to get one of those offers:

The Illini and Boilermakers have offered and the Wolverines, who won’t offer class of 2015 prospects until June 15, seem to be heading in that direction. He said he hopes to work in an unofficial visit to Bloomington when in town for the adidas May Classic and will be in Ann Arbor on June 1 for Michigan’s elite camp.

“(Assistant) coach (LaVall) Jordan has been talking to me about it,” he said of a potential scholarship offer from Michigan. “If I do get the offer, that would be pretty great.”

Indiana also offered a while ago.

Etc.: Chris Webber! Chris Webber! But I want to hang out with Maurice Taylor, you guyyyys. And Louis Bullock. Vince Edwards still status quo, deciding between Michigan and Purdue. Staples ranks M 16th. Hruby on who exactly is harmed by the McLemore money moving around thing, references Catch-22.