Softball Opens Judi Garman Classic with a Win [Update: 2 Wins]

Softball Opens Judi Garman Classic with a Win [Update: 2 Wins]

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on March 1st, 2018 at 2:34 PM

Every year at this time, Michigan's softball team treks West to participate in the annual Judi Garman Classic, which features a wide field of teams of all levels from around the country.  This year, the Wolverines opened play with a match-up against a weak Loyola Marymount team.

Despite their unimpressive record, the LMU Lions managed to give Michigan some significant trouble in this one.  Freshman phenom Meghan Beaubien was in command for most of the game, but one slip up in the 2nd cost her 2 runs on a LMU homer.  Michigan started to scratch back in the B3 as Alex Sobczak made her way around the bases 60 feet at a time, taking advantage of a sac bunt, a ground out, and an error to make it a 2-1 game.

A Tera Blanco single in the 5th opened the door for Rodriguez to tie it up, but Michigan was unable to take the lead.  After a blank 6th inning, Beaubien retired the Lions in order to start the 7th, and Michigan came to the plate knowing they just needed 1 run for the W.  Three straight singles from Canfield, Peters, and Blanco got the job done, and Michigan walked off with a 3-2 win.

It's not one for the record books, and it won't do much to assuage concerns about the Wolverine offense, but the team managed to avoid a bad loss today.  Hopefully it was just a matter of a long flight, jet lag, and an early start time.  The team will have what should be a tune-up game against Charlotte at noon Pacific Time today before two crucial games against Baylor and ULL tomorrow.

Update: The team beat the Charlotte 49ers 5-0 in the second game of the day.  Most of the damage was done over the course of a 4-run 4th inning.  That outburst was encouragingly highlighted by a 2-RBI single from freshman Lou Allan, who has been out with injury thus far this season.  In the circle, Tera Blanco and Sarah Schaefer combined for the shutout, scattering 5 hits.

Softball Finishes Weekend Strong, Tops Texas 4-0

Softball Finishes Weekend Strong, Tops Texas 4-0

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on February 25th, 2018 at 7:55 PM

Michigan softball's rough weekend ended on a high note with a 4-0 win over the Longhorns to wrap up the Texas Invitational.  After struggling to score earlier in the weekend, the Wolverines were able to string a few things together today and get the job done.

All the scoring took place in the 2nd inning, as the Maize & Blue loaded the bases on hits by Uden and Hoogenraad along with an HBP that put Sobczak aboard.  "Panda" Vargas then drew a walk to open up the scoring, and Faith Canfield put a ball in play to score another on an RBI fielder's choice.  She would steal second, a decision that paid off when Natalie Peters hit a single, bringing home both Canfield and Hoogenraad, giving the Wolverines a comfortable cushion.

Even as a true freshman, Meghan Beaubien has proven herself to be the sort of pitcher you can trust to hold a lead.  Texas created a little drama in the 5th and 6th, getting runners to 3rd with just one out each time.  The result was 3 Ks and a groundout, and no joy for the Texas fans.  Beaubien went 7 strong, scattering 3 hits and a walk while racking up 7 Ks on the day.  The freshman's ERA is now a glittering 0.53, despite having faced Michigan's toughest opponents.

The team will be back in action on Thursday at the Judi Garman Classic.  Friday will be especially important as a resume-builder, with games against Baylor and ULL.  Some quality wins out West could be very valuable for Michigan's tournament plans.

Softball Splits Saturday Games

Softball Splits Saturday Games

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on February 24th, 2018 at 6:31 PM

Well, friends, I have to admit that I may have over-rated the softball team's offense in my season preview.  There's a lot of time left in the season, of course, but the offensive struggles are starting to look like a pattern, and are the main reason the team is sitting on a middling 7-6 record, with some questionable losses along the way.

In today's first game, strong pitching from Blanco (5.1 innings) and Beaubien (2) wasn't enough to overcome the total lack of run support.  The Wolverine pitchers blanked Virginia Tech for 7 full innings before finally surrendering a run in the bottom of the 8th for a walk-off 1-0 loss.

Fortunately, game 2 went a little better - as one would expect against Wichita State.  The Wolverines pounded the Shockers into the ground, putting up 6 runs in the first inning.  All the starters except for Tera Blanco got at least 1 hit on the day, and she still managed to score a pair of runs, so it wasn't all bad for her either.  Madison Uden and Aidan Falk were the stars, combining for 5 hits and 6 RBIs in the game.  Beaubien pitched the first 3 innings before handing over the reins to fellow-freshman Sarah Schaefer with the game no longer in doubt.  The run rule ended the game before the Wolverines would even step to the plate in the 5th inning, with a final score of 11-0.

Michigan will try to earn a winning record on the weekend with a match-up against the Texas Longhorns tomorrow at 1:30 PM, CT.  The game will be shown live on the Longhorn Network.  

Softball Shuts Out Hokies, 2-0

Softball Shuts Out Hokies, 2-0

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on February 23rd, 2018 at 4:16 PM

Michigan softball took the field again today after an up-and-down weekend at FSU a week ago.  This time they're in Texas, and they started the weekend against a middling Virginia Tech team.  The offense was lethargic, generating only 3 hits on the day, but they did manage to manufacture a pair of runs on a HBP in the 2nd and a sac fly in the 5th.

Defensively, Meghan Beaubien was magical in the circle once again.  She went the distance, pitching another shut-out and extending her record to 5-1 on the season.  Beaubien scattered 3 hits, ceded no walks, and fanned 4.

Up next will be a clash with a scuffling Texas team.  1st pitch is scheduled for 6 PM Central time, and the game can be viewed live on the Longhorn Network.

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 Drops Pitchers' Duel to Florida; USF at 3:45

Softball Drops Pitchers' Duel to Florida; USF at 3:45

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on February 10th, 2018 at 12:56 PM

Florida has been the softball program's nemesis for years now, and despite an impressive performance from the freshman ace, that trend continued.  In Scott Frost fashion, the Wolverines actually did out-hit the Gators on the day, 5-4, but the Gators were the ones who strung their hits together, plating 2 runs in the 4th inning.

While everyone hates a moral victory, it is impossible not to be impressed at Meghan Beaubien's performance in the circle today.  Facing the #2 team in the country, replete with star power and WCWS experience in just her 2nd start ever, Beaubien kept the Gators in check all game long.  She threw 6 strong innings, highlighted by a 9-2 K/BB ratio.

If nothing else, Michigan learned today that now and for the next four years, we will have an ace pitcher that can keep us in the game against anyone in the country when she's on.  And she'll keep getting better, as will the rest of the team.  On to the next game - USF in a few hours.

Michigan Softball 2018 Season Preview

Michigan Softball 2018 Season Preview

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on February 9th, 2018 at 4:45 PM

[ED: Happy Softball Opening Day! Every year South Bend Wolverine writes these fantastic previews of Michigan's continuing softball dynasty. He put this up before the season started but they've already won two games, the second a no hitter by freshman pitcher Meghan Beaubien. I've added photos and captions. Enjoy the winning! -Seth]

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More great seniors where that came from! [JD Scott]

It seems as though Michigan softball is often at its best when other sports are scuffling.  Michigan’s mediocre 2005 football team played in the same year that Michigan softball won a national championship.  Softball’s 9-year Big Ten conference championship streak spanned the entire Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke years, covering some Beilein struggles and the late Berenson decline as well.  The high point of that run, the 2015 “Year of the Pizza” national runner-up squad, made names like Romero, Lawrence, Wagner, and Susalla household names while Wolverine fans were reeling from the collapse of the Hoke/Brandon fiasco.  If this pattern holds, then middling seasons in football, hockey, and arguably basketball as well just might be a good omen for the 2018 softball team.

Whatever the auguries, this is a team resolutely looking towards the future.  The conference championship streak is broken, all the biggest stars of 2015 have graduated, and one of the most exciting recruiting classes in program history has arrived in town, ready to get down to business.  The past is in the past.  With first-pitch just two days away, it’s time for a new generation to write some legends of their own.

Departures

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Will it be weird not having Megan Betsa around? You bet your ass it will! [Marc-Grégor Campredon]

Michigan bids a fond farewell to a storied senior class.  The four players who made up the class of 2017 played on some of the greatest teams in Michigan softball history, including one of my personal all-time, all-sport favorite teams to watch, the 2015 team.  These women won an astonishing 202 games as Wolverines.  In conference play, they brought home 3 Big Ten Championships and 1 Big Ten Tournament Championship, while in the post-season they won 3 NCAA regionals, made two trips to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series, and finished as National Runners-Up once.

The star of the group was right-handed strike-out artist Megan Betsa.  She made 1st Team All-Big Ten 3 times, and 2nd Team All-American thrice as well.  Her name won’t be dislodged from the Michigan record books anytime soon, as she finished her career second in team history with 6 no-hitters, third with 102 wins and 1,201 strikeouts, and fourth with 37 shutouts.  As a senior, she led the nation in Ks by a country mile, setting down 412 batters on strikes, 52 more than the second-place pitcher.  On a team that didn’t have a deep rotation, Betsa was an iron horse, throwing 235.1 innings while maintaining a remarkably high level of play throughout.

[Hit THE JUMP for the new wave, just like the old wave]

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 Spring Slate Announced

Softball Spring Slate Announced

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on November 13th, 2017 at 1:39 PM

Michigan softball released their schedule for the 2018 season today, and it looks like a favorable one in some ways, although perhaps a bit disappointing for the home fans in terms of big match-ups.

The non-conference schedule will be highlighted by an opening-weekend match-up with recent nemesis & perennial powerhouse Florida, followed by a trip to Tallahassee for 2 games apiece against Notre Dame & Florida State.  After that, Michigan will take on some middle of the road teams in Virginia Tech & Texas before heading West for their annual trip to the Judi Garman Classic, where they'll see Baylor & UL Lafayette.  As an aside, ULL just fired their highly-successful coach a couple weeks ago for intimidation, vulgarity, and verbal & physical assault directed at players.  After that, Michigan should cruise through the back end of non-conference play, with no more marquee opponents slated.

The Big Ten schedule, meanwhile, shapes up either very favorably or very poorly, depending on your priorities.  If it's another Big Ten crown you want, Michigan is in a good spot.  They'll play the bottom 6 teams from last year's conference standings, and 7 of the bottom 8.  If you were hoping for some big-time opponents at Alumni Field, though, you'll have to hope that Michigan hosts a regional/super-regional this year.  A 3 game home-stand against Ohio State to close out the conference season is the only look Michigan will get at a Big Ten team that made the NCAA tournament.

Overall, I'm fairly pleased with this schedule.  The non-conference isn't the total murderer's row it sometimes is, which might be good as Michigan looks to get some younger players to step up & become regular contributors.  There are still enough marquee games in the non-conference, though, that this team won't be totally un-tested come tournament time.  And while I never like sailing through the Big Ten unchallenged, as it doesn't prepare the team well for NCAAs, I am very eager to start a new Big Ten title streak, so hopefully the softer conference slate will set us up well for that.

Full schedule: http://mgoblue.com/schedule.aspx?path=softball&schedule=479