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!