Softball Starts Huge IU Series With 5-1 Win

Softball Starts Huge IU Series With 5-1 Win

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on April 27th, 2018 at 8:35 PM

Michigan softball began the biggest series of the year tonight, traveling down to Bloomington to take on surprise contender Indiana in a three game set.  Entering the weekend just 1 game ahead of IU in the loss column, it was imperative that the Wolverines get off on the right foot.

Early on, though, things were a little shaky.  Meghan Beaubien was not at her usual dominant standards, ceding a hit and a walk in the 1st, followed by a run off a HBP & a double in the 2nd.  Down 1-0, though, the offense started clicking.  In the 3rd, Michigan posed its first real threat of the game, loading the bases.  A strike-out would end the threat, however, giving IU a brief reprieve.

After Beaubien delivered her 1st 1-2-3 half-inning in the B3, Michigan took a lead in the T4 that they would not relinquish.  2 walks and an HBP loaded the bases for Alex Sobczak, and she tied the game with a sac fly.  Staring down the barrel of Michigan star Faith Canfield with an open base at 1st, IU decided to issue the free pass & load 'em up.  Natalie Peters didn't take kindly to IU's evaluation of her talent, and beat out a single to score the run.

After another scoreless IU half, Michigan gained some distance in the T5.  A two-run shot from "Air-Mail" Aidan Falk was followed by a solo-blast from Haley Hoogenraad, and just like that, it was 5-1 game.  Indiana would threaten in the 6th, putting 2 in scoring position with no outs, and then loading the bases with just 1 away.  Beaubien kept her cool, though, and worked out of the jam with no harm done - an alert throw from Madison Uden off a ball hit by her sister to gun down the lead runner at home helped out.  An uneventful 7th closed the book on game 1.

Michigan will face Indiana twice more this weekend, at 1 PM on Saturday, and again at 1 on Sunday.  A win tomorrow to clinch the series would go a long way to staking Michigan's claim on the Big Ten championship.  Don't sleep on Minneosta, though - they're still hanging around in the picture.  Lots of exciting softball left on the season!

Softball Wins Series Opener Over Maryland, 6-0

Softball Wins Series Opener Over Maryland, 6-0

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on April 20th, 2018 at 8:41 PM

First off, sorry for the lack of softball updates last weekend.  If you will pardon a bit of shameless horn-tooting, I didn't post anything because I was up in Minnesota for the 2018 USA Broomball National Championships.  The co-rec team I play for, District Charm, won the Co-Rec Class B Championship, so at least I was busy winning!

Anyhow, back to the champions of the West.  Michigan softball continued Big Ten play this evening with a match-up against middling Maryland.  This one was out of reach early, as a 2-run Aidan Falk double followed by a Katie Alexander sac-fly put Michigan up 3-0 after 1.  Falk & Alexander would combine to push across 2 more runs in the 3rd.  This time, it was Falk with the sac fly and Alexander with the RBI triple.  A Natalie Peters single in the 4th, driving home Natalia Rodriguez, would round out the scoring.

Freshman Meghan Beaubien was once again stellar in the circle.  It's become so predictable, especially with an over-matched team like Maryland, that these paragraphs write themselves. A bunt single in the 6th inning was the only thing separating the freshman sensation from another no-hitter.  As it was, she went 7 strong, with 7 Ks and not a walk in sight.

The series continues tomorrow at 2 PM.

Softball Bounces Back against Illinois St., 6-1

Softball Bounces Back against Illinois St., 6-1

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on February 11th, 2018 at 1:05 PM

After a disappointing Saturday in which the offense never really got going, the Michigan softball team had a bounce-back performance Sunday against Illinois State.  The bats heated up in this one, as the Wolverines pounded out 13 hits.  The offensive headliners were Aidan Falk and Faith Canfield, with two hits apiece.  Falk & Canfield are hitting .400 and .389, respectively, and are showing every indication of being the core of the offensive leadership for the 2018 squad.

In the circle, freshman Meghan Beaubien got the start again, and again looked the part of the ace.  Outside of a bumpy second inning, in which she surrendered 2 hits, a BB, and a HBP, leading to ISU's only run, Beaubien kept the Redbirds off the base paths while she was pitching.

With a substantial lead, Hutch decided to go to the bullpen in the 5th, sending her other freshman pitcher, Sarah Schafer, out for her first NCAA action.  Schafer surrendered a pair of hits, but also picked up 2 Ks and did not allowed a run.

Next weekend the team heads to Tallahassee for 2 games against Notre Dame & 2 more against Florida State.  With 4 games against tournament-level teams, including 2 against a top-10 opponent, this will be one of the pivotal weekends in the non-conference schedule.

Softball Whips UAB in Season Opener [Update: No Hitter in Game 2!]

Softball Whips UAB in Season Opener [Update: No Hitter in Game 2!]

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on February 9th, 2018 at 12:20 PM

Softball season is officially underway for the Michigan Wolverines!  In Florida for the USF tournament, the team took on the UAB Blazers.

Michigan got started early, putting up a run in the 1st inning on the strength of an Aidan Falk single.  Both teams threatened in the 2nd, but no one was able to push a run across.  Then in the 3rd inning, Michigan blew down the doors.  Faith Canfield got a lead-off hit, and after a walk, Falk added 2 more RBIs to her total with another single.  A pair of hit batters made it 4-0, and Abby Skvarce made it 5-0 (and maintained her career 1.000 batting average!).  The inning finally ended, but not before 2 wild pitches made it 6-0.  Things calmed down after that, with a Faith Canfield solo shot in the 6th rounding out the scoring.

Defensively, Tera Blanco went 6 strong innings, not allowing a run at any point.  Looking to get her young star a few reps in a low pressure situation, Hutch threw freshman Meghan Beaubien into the circle to close the show.  A little bit of nerves might have been in play, as Beaubien hit the first batter on her first career pitch.  A couple close plays that went UAB's way loaded the bases with no outs, and brought Hutch to the circle.  After that, Beaubien was lights out.  2 straight Ks put UAB's backs to the wall, and a ground-out ended the affair.

Michigan will now take a short break before facing Georgia State in about 20 minutes.

Georgia State was simply no match for Michigan in any phase of the game.  Offensively, Michigan hit through the line-up, with everyone but Blanco getting at least one base knock.  Faith Canfield starred offensively with 2 hits, including a 3-run homer to put the game into run-rule territory in the top of the 6th, but it was truly a team effort.

No one wants to talk about the offense right now, though.  The story is all about Meghan Beaubien, who absolutely murdered GSU from the circle.  Hurling 11 Ks while surrendering just 1 walk, the freshman unbelievably pitched a complete-game no-hitter in her first career start.  She mixed speeds effectively, ranging from the 70s down to the mid-50s, and never looked in serious danger of wavering.  You can't ask for a better start to a career than she just delivered.  Tomorrow, we'll get the chance to see what she can do against tougher opponents.

Softball Super-Regional Preview

Softball Super-Regional Preview

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on May 20th, 2015 at 4:00 PM

   

Roll the dough!

THE ESSENTIALS

WHAT

NCAA Softball Super-Regional

WHERE

Wilpon Complex/Alumni Field

WHEN

Thursday-Friday, May 21-22

TV

ESPN, ESPN2 & ESPNU

THE SCHEDULE

The NCAA super-regional is a best-of-three series. There will be one game Thursday and one Friday, with a third game following a half-hour after the second if needed.

Time

Game

Thursday, May 21

9:00 p.m.

Game 1 -- #3 Michigan vs. #14 Georgia (ESPN2)

Friday, May 22

6:00 p.m.

Game 2 -- #3 Michigan vs. #14 Georgia (ESPNU)

9 p.m.

Game 3 (if necessary) -- #3 Michigan vs. #14 Georgia (ESPN)

REGIONAL REVIEW

Last year in Tempe, the regional was an emotional thrill-ride.  Shoot-outs, come-backs, and one of the greatest games in Michigan softball history combined to put the Wolverines past Arizona State.  Cardiologists throughout Southeast Michigan were probably happy to see this year’s affair cause the Maize & Blue spectators a great deal less anxiety.  Apart from a spot of indigestion when Cal briefly took a 1-0 lead on Saturday, there was not much to raise heart rates or drive up blood pressure as the big Blue machine cruised to their regional coronation.

As the top seed in the region, Michigan drew the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in the opener, a middling team that snagged an auto-bid out of a lower-tier conference.  Michigan was not as sharp as they could have been in their first playoff appearance, which Carol Hutchins attributed to the nervous energy of the first game of the playoffs.  Even so, Michigan breezed by a badly out-matched Oakland team.  The Grizzlies played into Michigan’s hands, handing out 6 walks, committing 2 errors, and plunking a pair of Wolverine batters.  As she has done so often, Sierra Romero led the way on offense, going 2-3 with 2 RBIs as Michigan secured a 9-1 mercy-rule win.

Michigan had to shake off the jitters that slowed them down in game 1 quickly, as a tested California team came knocking on the door on Saturday.  As mentioned, Cal took an early lead with a home run in the top of the 2nd.  The first time through the line-up, Michigan continually made contact against Cal starter Stephanie Trzcinski, but couldn’t get much going beyond a manufactured run in the 2nd to level the score.  Once they’d had a look at her, though, Michigan’s deadly line-up zeroed in and showed no mercy.  Romero gave Michigan the lead on a deep solo-blast in the third, and in the 4th the rest of the team blew the doors down.  Falk, Lawrence, and Christner each launched long-balls, and Cal was down 7-1 before they came back to the plate.  Cal would continue to threaten throughout the day, but Betsa worked out of several jams with a little help from her friends.  Abby Ramirez highlighted the defensive performance with a dynamite diving grab to rob a base hit.  A two-run double in the 6th from senior catcher Lauren Sweet allowed Michigan to walk off early for the second day in a row, also by a 9-1 margin.

On Sunday, Michigan unexpectedly faced the Pittsburgh Panthers, who used a grand slam and some good freshman pitching to oust the Bears in the Saturday late game.  As the away team on the scoreboard, Michigan batted first, and by the time they were done, the game was almost out of reach.  Sierra Lawrence sprinkled the cheese from the lead-off spot, reaching 2nd base on a hard-hit ball down the right-field line.  She would come in to score after two illegal-pitch calls.  Pitt’s hurler hit Romero and walked Christner before giving up a 3-run blast to Susalla.  Clearly flustered, she left the game without retiring a single Michigan batter.  Aidan Falk added another run, and it was 5-0 by the time Pitt picked up their bats.  It briefly looked as though Michigan might grab yet another mercy-rule win when the lead swelled to 8 runs in the 3rd, but Pitt got 3 back in the bottom of the same inning.  Neither starter Wagner nor reliever Betsa had her best stuff today, as on-and-off drizzles, fatigue, and perhaps just a little complacency with the big lead kept them off-balance.  They did what they needed to do, however, and the offense removed any doubt with a pair of insurance runs in the 5th inning.  Alumni Field rose as one to cheer on Betsa as she gunned down the final Pitt hitter in the 7th, and Michigan could celebrate a 10-3 win and a regional championship.

The stats throughout the weekend were impressive to say the least for the Maize & Blue.  Michigan went 3-0, outscoring their opponents 28-5 along the way and posting a combined 1.84 ERA with a 26-5 K to BB ratio.  5 home runs on the weekend pushed Michigan’s season total to a staggering 112, now well past the 2005 team’s program record in that category.  Junior wonder-worker Sierra Romero showed the full range of her abilities, going 5-9 at the plate, showing power with a home-run and blazing speed with a triple and a cheeky bunt-single against a backed-off infield.  Freshman Aidan Falk made a big impression as well – as Hutch says, at this point in the year, they’re not freshmen anymore!  She hit .600 on the weekend, grabbing 3 hits against both Cal and Pitt.

SUPER-REGIONAL PREVIEW

After Sunday’s game, Carol Hutchins told her team what she always does after a regional win – that they are one of only 16 teams in the country that gets to have practice on Tuesday.  For a coach that wants nothing more than a chance to help her players get better, that is reason enough to be excited.  One of those other 15 teams will be thinking along the same lines, however, and is headed for Ann Arbor with no intentions of bowing out early.  Now it’s time for us to look ahead to our opponents in the next round, the Georgia Bulldogs out of the ESS-EEE-SEE!

Georgia tore through a thoroughly mediocre non-conference schedule, littered with the Elons and Winthrops of the world.  The Mary Nutter Collegiate Challenge was their only real foray into serious opposition prior to conference play.  There Georgia notched a shiny win over Oklahoma, but suffered losses to Texas and Notre Dame – tourney teams, but ones a real contender should be able to handle.  The Bulldogs added a few more non-conference games in the midst of their conference slate, and did not fare so well in those match-ups, dropping a wild 15-9 affair to UNC and taking a surprise 4-3 loss against USC Upstate.

Within the SEC, Georgia’s season went largely according to plan, with few major upsets in either direction.  A home win against Alabama and a road sweep of Kentucky mark the most impressive achievements of the Dogs on the season thus far.  With the rise of the conference as a whole, however, simply navigating the schedule without excessive humiliation now buys a team not only a ticket to the big dance, but the right to host a regional as well.

Once in the regional, things got dicey for Georgia.  Fans that came to Athens on Saturday got to watch MUCH more than they paid to see.  Western Kentucky went 14 innings with Georgia, eventually winning a 2-1 pitchers’ duel on the arm of Miranda Kramer, who struck out 19, allowing only 5 hits and 1 run over the equivalent of two back-to-back games.  After that, Georgia was pushed to the very edge of elimination, salvaging a 2-run deficit in the 5th inning against UNC before walking off in the 7th.  Sunday went by more easily, as Kramer was unable to recapture the magic of her earlier performance, and Georgia cruised to back-to-back double-digit mercy-rule wins.  They escaped ignominy and earned the right to travel north to Ann Arbor where, according to their football coach, they will surely freeze to death.

Digging into the stats, we see a Georgia team with a respectable defense and an elite offense.  Chelsea Wilkinson is clearly the work-horse for Georgia in the circle, having hurled over 100 more innings than back-up Brittany Gray, and leading the team in ERA, strike-outs, and a number of other categories.  She is a strike-out merchant, averaging a little over one per inning – not Betsa-level, but quite good.  The one real knock on her is that she is significantly more inclined to give up the long-ball compared to her partner, ceding over 5 times more on the season.  While this may be attributable to having faced better opposition, Georgia may want to consider giving Gray an opportunity if the home runs start piling up.

Meanwhile, at the plate, Georgia stands squarely among the nation’s elite.  The Dogs .346 team batting average is actually a hair ahead of Michigan’s .344 number, and is tied for 10th nation-wide.  While Michigan more than makes up the difference with a better on-base and more home runs, there is no doubt that the Bulldogs can plate runs when they need to.  At the end of the day, what matters on offense is scoring runs, and Georgia is again tied for 10th in the country at 7.31 per game (Michigan, meanwhile, is in 2nd at 8.30).

The star of the line-up is Alex Hugo without a doubt.  She hits over .400, gets on base over half the time she steps to the plate, and leads the team with an impressive 21 homers.  Limiting her opportunities to get multiple RBIs will be essential for Michigan’s defense.  That won’t be easy to do, however, as almost every major contributor on Georgia hits over .330.  Sisters Cortni and Sydni Emanuel are both over .400 on the year (there are two other girls in the Emanuel family, Brittni and Whitni, which … ok).  For one of the first times this season, Betsa and Wagner will really get a sense of what other pitchers feel like going up against our line-up – there simply are no easy outs available.

The one weakness in this buzz-saw of an attack is a dearth of true power hitters.  Apart from Hugo, only one other hitter has double-digit homers on the year (Anna Swafford, a strike-out prone .342 slugger).  After her, only one more player has more than 5 long balls.  This team is almost certainly going to get hits, but as long as we can scatter them and get the timely K or double-play, we just might escape without too much damage.  If they get on a roll and the hitting becomes contagious, however, the wheels can come off in a hurry, as WKU’s Miranda Kramer found out on Sunday.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Like last week, I’ll peg a couple Michigan names for newer fans to keep an eye on.  It would be a little too easy to just name superstar Sierra Romero and ace pitcher Megan Betsa every time, so this week, let’s put the spotlight on a couple players who have been coming on strong of late – Lindsey Montemarano and Aidan Falk.  In addition to starting the team’s pizza obsession, Montemarano has been a spark plug in the line-up in recent weeks after having to fight for her spot earlier in the season.  She has become a highly disciplined hitter, using her diminutive stature (and accompanying smaller strike-zone) to draw more than her fair share of walks.  Aidan Falk starred in the “regional review” above, and deservedly so.  She has been dialed in of late, and is beginning to show more and more of the power she used to set state records in New York in her high school days.  Carol Hutchins has often spoken about the importance of hitting through the line-up, 1-9 rather than just 1-4.  Keep an eye on this pair as we look to continue that trend.

OUTLOOK

As much as I hate to do it, even a superstitious fan like myself has to make some predictions at the end of a write-up.  Looking at Georgia’s numbers, it’s impossible for me to believe that we will hold them down all weekend.  At some point they’ll string things together, somewhere along the line, Michigan’s defense will be stretched to the limit.  All the same, when you stack things up, and as much as I hate to jinx anything with over-confidence, I just can’t see them beating us out.  We hit just as well as they do for average, better for on-base, and vastly better for power.  Their ace is very good; our back-up has better numbers than her and our ace is among the nation’s best.  I see Georgia getting hot and winning a game, but Michigan will pull through in the end and return to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series next week.

SB Commit Aidan Falk breaks NY State HR Record

SB Commit Aidan Falk breaks NY State HR Record

Submitted by loyalblue15 on May 8th, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Softball Commit Aidan Falk (Mercy - Rochester, NY) recently broke the New York State career home run record.  Looks like Coach Hutch is getting another great one!

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/sports/high-school/2014/05/06/mercys-falk-sets-state-hr-record/8788305/

 

Edited to remove 'Recruit' for 'Commit'.  Good call.

Hello: Aidan Falk (sb)

Hello: Aidan Falk (sb)

Submitted by MGoSoftball on November 11th, 2013 at 3:25 PM

Now with the Football season all but over (save #beat ohio), it is time to talk about our most recently successful varsity sport: Softball.  National Signing Day is Friday so I will give the board a run-down of the latest verbal commitments that are expected to sign with us on Friday. 

Coach Hutch seems to be focusing on power with this class in the mold of Chiddy and Ashley.  We are expected to get 3 kids from Orange County, California along with the player profiled below.

First up is Aidan Falk.  Aidan Hails from Rochester New York where she plays for Our Lady of Mercy.  Her summer team is the elite Battery Lightning gold.  She plays catcher and 1B, she bats and throws left.  In her junior year, Aidan’s batting average is .556 and her on-base percentage was .682.  Last year as a junior, Aidan was a Second-Team All-State selection.  MaxPreps ranks her in the top 60 nationally.

Aidan received an offer from ND, amongst other smaller D1 schools.  Welcome to the family Aidan.  We are happy to have you.  We hope your stay in AA is rewarding, your softball career is outstanding but more importantly; your education and studies bring enlightenment that only the Michigan Difference can bring.