Michigan Mercies Maryland, Softball Wins 12-1 (5 inn.)

Submitted by South Bend Wolverine on April 21st, 2018 at 3:36 PM

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.

Comments

RoseInBlue

April 21st, 2018 at 3:53 PM ^

*sigh*  I was really hoping Penn St. would take one from Indiana this weekend.  It's one thing to battle for the title with Minnesota who's at least decent but to battle it out with a 20-25 Indiana team?  That just sucks.  I hope we beat the crap out of them next weekend. At least we actually play (what seems to be) our main competition this year.

OCBlue

April 21st, 2018 at 5:22 PM ^

Is this team better than LY? Seems like there hitting has picked up and there fielding and pitching is better than ever. Maybe it's the competition but anyone have a feel to how good they are?

South Bend Wolverine

April 21st, 2018 at 8:15 PM ^

Hmm ... at this point in the year, I think I'd have to say yes.  Over the first 12 games, when we went 6-6 with a couple pretty wobbly losses (and one crucial win, over FSU), we were definitely worse than last year.  The offense was in a major funk & Beaubien was the only consistently excellent force on the field.  Fortunately, her brilliance was enough to keep us at least somewhat afloat.

Since then, though, the team has found its identity.  The Year of the Pizza style is behind us - we're a defensive team now.  Beaubien is the centerpiece, but Blanco is pitching better than she ever has, and Schaefer has turned out to be a thoroughly serviceable rotation piece (with real potential for the future).  The fielding is nationally elite as well, making us a very, very hard team to score on.  The offense has also become much more consistent - still not '15 / '16 good, but we've got two stars in Canfield & Uden, and Blanco & Falk are bringing some power.  7 different hitters are over .300, and that's enough to get us the runs we've needed to go 31-1 since that 6-6 start.

Contrast to last year, where we just never got a marquee win like FSU this year, and had some questionable losses as well.  The offense is deeper this year, which helps us avoid last year's problem - leaving runners stranded in crucial situations.  And, shockingly, the pitching is better - much better.  Megan Betsa is a program legend, and carried an insane load last year, but Beaubien has been an upgrade (caveat - if Betsa hadn't had to pitch every dang inning, her ERA may have been a bit lower, but still, right now it's Beaubien .77, Betsa 1.40).

Both 2017 and 2018 are solid teams, but if I had to go off results so far, I give the nod to 2018.  Let's hope they keep it up & I don't regret speaking too soon!

tlo2485

April 21st, 2018 at 8:37 PM ^

Great overview. This team still has a lot to accomplish this year, but I couldn't help thinking this team is PRIMED for a serious world series run next season. Much like Beliein, when we get nervous after our stars graduate or move on (Romero, Trey, etc).... we are lucky that we are in amazing hands and will continue to compete at the highest levels.

South Bend Wolverine

April 21st, 2018 at 11:04 PM ^

I'm also pretty excited about 2019.  The book is far from closed on 2018, of course, and I think this team can absolutely get to OKC if they play to their potential, but it's hard not to look ahead and get psyched.  Tera Blanco will be a big loss, both in the circle and at the dish.  In the circle, we'll need some combination of continued development from Schaefer and instant-impact from incoming RHP Alex Storako to make up for that loss.  Survey says definitely possible, but we'll have to wait & see.

On offense, Blanco's absence will also be felt, as will that of Aidan Falk.  On the other hand, we can hope for bigger contributions from Lou Allan, who is only now coming into her own as a regular hitter, along with incremental progression from the other promising freshmen.  We'll also have a highly-touted set of freshmen coming in, so we can look for some instant-impact at the plate as well.

Fundamentally, as long Beaubien keeps her nose to the grindstone (and she will!), this team will have a great anchor in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.  We could see deep post-season runs in any & all of those years.  And thankfully, there's no NBA to steal away our stars here!  We get 'em for four full years!

Maize4Life

April 21st, 2018 at 6:16 PM ^

Indiana is on Fire too it will NOT be a easy series...Unless IU loses tommorow its going to be a best 2 out of 3 series for the Big Ten reg season Lead and probable title

RoseInBlue

April 21st, 2018 at 7:44 PM ^

I wouldn't say on fire.  The Big Ten is really bad this year and they've taken advantage (including sweeping a horrifically overranked Ohio State team).  But their schedule remains favorable for the rest of the season so yes, next weekend could be a best 2 of 3 series for the title.

tlo2485

April 21st, 2018 at 8:31 PM ^

Do you think Beaubien starts all three? I think we can handle them, but the margin of error is nonexistent. It could be a window into how Hutch will roll when we get to regionals as far as the length of Blanco's leash and who starts. I've actually been pretty happy with how much Blanco has been able to provide, luckily against a pretty weak schedule in conference.