Wot it says on the box! Big Ten Tournament play begins for the Maize & Blue against MSU. MSU spoiled the party last year, and while everyone will deny it, you know that game's in the back of everyone's mind tonight. Beaubien gets the start, it's up to her to keep MSU down so the O can go to work.
Before the season started, many pegged this OSU series as one that could determine the Big Ten championship. In those projections, both teams were supposed to still be in the hunt. OSU dropped out of the race early when they suffered a 3-game sweep at the hands of IU, but they still came to Ann Arbor in a position to play spoiler, as (barring a PSU upset over Minnesota) Michigan needs to win the series to clinch a share of the Big Ten crown, and needs all 3 to take the title outright.
OSU struck first in this one, knocking a lead-off home-run over the wall in the top of the 2nd. Michigan didn't waste much time striking back, though, as a 2-out Aidan Falk walk turned into a run on the strength of singles from Taylor Swearingen & Haley Hoogenraad. The Buckeyes grabbed the lead again in the 4th, again on a lead-off solo-shot. After that, though, Meghan Beaubien settled in nicely, allowing just one more hit the rest of the way. Issuing no walks while mowing down 11 via the K, Beaubien was in near-total command apart from the two long balls.
The Wolverines, for their part, weren't done on offense. After loading the bases to no avail in the 4th, the Maize & Blue would turn the tide for good in the bottom of the 5th. Michigan's big bats came through, as Tera Blanco started the inning off with a single, followed by a double from rising star Madison Uden, hero of the IU series. An Aidan Falk walk would load the bases, but a strike-out put the pressure on, as Michigan again faced a 2-out, bases-loaded situation. They wouldn't let this one go to waste, though. Hoogenraad kept her cool & drew a crucial walk to bring in the first run, and then Lou Allan, the freshman with sky-high potential, brought in what would turn out to be the winning run on a single to the short-stop.
The series will continue with games tomorrow at 1 PM and then Sunday at 6. Both will be on BTN, and if you don't already have a ticket, that's your only option, as the whole series has sold out!
No sugar-coating it - this loss sucks. After building a 4-0 lead, Michigan let it all slip away, giving up the tying run with 2 outs in the 7th, and then ceding a walk-off homer in extras. Tomorrow's rubber game is a must-win if Michigan wants any chance at the regular season title. All margin for error has been drained out of the championship chase.
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!
Last year, Maryland handed Michigan a surprising loss in College Park, dealing a critical blow to Michigan's Big Ten title chances. Revenge may not have been consciously on the players' minds this weekend, but the results speak for themselves. Michigan complete a "win with cruelty" 3-game sweep of a Terrapins team that never looked like they deserved to be on the same field with mighty Michigan.
For the 3rd straight game, Michigan rushed out to an early lead, plating a run in the 1st on a Faith Canfield solo home run. 2 more runs would pop up on the board in each of the next 3 innings, as Lou Allan would launch a long ball in the 2nd, an error and an Alexander single would add a pair in the 3rd, and Peters & Blanco would combine to drive home runs #6 & 7 in the 4th. The 5th inning came & went quietly, before Michigan applied the coup de grace in the 6th. An error got things started, and then 3 straight singles, from Canfield, Peters, and Blanco would bring home the game-ending run-rule score.
In the circle, Beaubien dazzled again. Only a check-swing appeal that went Maryland's way in the top of the 6th separated her from completing a perfect game. As it was, she threw yet another no-hitter, weed-whacking her way through the Maryland line-up with 11 Ks. In 2 games on the weekend, Beaubien went 13 innings, allowing no earned runs, 1 hit (Friday), 1 walk (today), and racking up 18 strike-outs. And yes, she's still just a freshman. Settle in, folks, it's going to be a fun 4 years.
Michigan will step on the field next on Friday at 6 PM to kick off a crucial series at Indiana. The Hoosiers, despite their terrible non-conference performance, have emerged into surprise contenders for the Big Ten regular season crown. The team that takes next weekend's series will be in a great position to take home the Big Ten title.
Another day, another dominant win for Michigan softball. Just like Friday night, Michigan jumped out early in this one, putting up 2 runs in the 1st. Maryland scratched out a run in the 2nd, but Michigan hit back right away with 2 more in the 2nd.
It was the 3rd inning where this one got completely out of hand, however. The Saline slugger, Katie Alexander, got things started with a solo shot to make it 5-1. A walk from Allan and singles from Hoogenraad and Rodriguez loaded the bases, and then the scoring started in earnest. Faith Canfield drew a walk, and then Natalie Peters cleared the bases with a 3 RBI triple. She didn't have to wait long for her turn to come home either, as a Tera Blanco RBI groundout capped the 3rd inning scoring. 2 more runs in the 4th pushed the margin to 12-1, as the Wolverines put up crooked numbers in all 4 innings of work.
Tera Blanco wasn't dominant in her 4 innings of work, but did enough to keep the Terps down. She handed out 4 hits and a run, but dealt 4 Ks as well before ceding the circle to Sarah Schaefer to close things out. Schaefer let up a 1-out single, but picked up back-to-back ground-outs to end the game.
Michigan goes for the series sweep tomorrow at noon-thirty. They'll need to keep the pedal to the metal, as Indiana, of all teams, while still well under .500 for the season, has amassed an impressive 10-2 record in the conference (mostly against bottom-feeders, it's true), and remains stubbornly only 1 game back in the standings.
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.
It was a bit of a lethargic day for offense at Alumni Field this afternoon, as the Michigan Wolverines took on their foe from just up the road, the EMU Hurons. A Tera Blanco solo-shot was the only hit from Michigan's top 4 batters on the day, but it alone would have been enough to get the win. Fortunately, there was a little more padding than that. Single runs in the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th innings provided the 4-0 margin that Michigan needed.
The real story in this one, though, was in the circle. Senior Tera Blanco gave perhaps her best performance yet in Maize & Blue, going 7 full innings, striking out 12 while ceding just 2 walks. Even better, she threw the complete-game no-hitter, the first of her Michigan career. This gives all three pitchers on the Michigan staff - Beaubien, Schaefer, and Blanco - a no-hitter on the season.
While beating the 4-28 Hurons is nothing to get overly worked up about, a no-hitter is always a great accomplishment. The fact that Michigan has 3 pitchers who've done it in a single season says a lot about how this team has transformed & found a new identity. While the team is still top-20 in batting average & top-40 in runs per game, they are now top 5 nationally in team ERA, and #2 in fielding percentage. This is an elite defensive team, both in the circle and in the field. As we've learned from basketball, that can take you a long way in a tournament.
Michigan's next game will be tomorrow evening at home 6 PM against MSU. The match-up will be on ESPNU, so be sure to tune in!
Michigan was not especially interested in showing mercy tonight in Pennsylvania, but the NCAA rules require a team beating the ever-living tar out of an opponent as badly as Michigan was doing to PSU tonight to stop. The Nittany Lions pitchers are very glad this one ended early.
After taking an inning to warm up, the offensive onslaught began in the top of the 2nd. After freshman Lou Allan, reached on an error, senior Aidan Falk drove home the pinch-running Nikki Wald to open the scoring. Singles from Alexander & Rodriguez tacked on 2 more runs, and provided the winning margin. After a quiet 3rd, Michigan tacked on 2 each in the 4th (on an unlikely home run from OBP maestro Natalie Peters) and the 5th (an Allan solo-shot followed by a sac fly later on), all hell broke loose in the 6th.
PSU made the mistake of ticking Michigan off by scoring a pair in the bottom of the 5th, capitalizing on a couple rare shaky moments from Beaubien, who was in command for most of the night. The Wolverines vented their rage, churning out 7 runs, batting around, and chasing the PSU starter. When all was said & done, just about every Wolverine had at least a run, a hit, or an RBI. Canfield & Uden both put up 3 hits, while Peters & Allan posted 2 apiece.
While mercy has been shown for now, the series resumes tomorrow at 3 PM. Look for the violence to continue against a PSU team with only 6 wins on the season.