Michigan SB wins in dramatic fashion; JT is out with injury

Submitted by MGoSoftball on April 24th, 2011 at 4:01 PM

The Michigan softball team won today by scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the 7th inning to beat the Iowa Hawkeyes 3-2.  The Hawkeyes had dominated the Wolverine hitters all day.  Iowa took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the 7th inning.  The game-time temperature was 65 degrees under mostly cloudy skies.

In the 7th inning, Michigan pulled together and the walk off hit was delivered by Alycia Ryan with a bases loaded hit off the RF wall with the game tied and bases loaded to score Taylor Hasselbach (who was running for Dorian Shaw).

Stephanie Speierman was the starting pitcher but her struggles continues.  She had control problems yesterday and they continued into today.  She pitched 4 innings giving up 1 ER off 3 hits, while striking out 2 and walking 4.  Hilary Payne pitched the final 3 innings to get the win.  Hilary gave up 1 ER off 1 hit and gave up 2 walks and 0 strikeouts.

This was a very exciting walk off win for the girls.  They played flat all day.  It appeared that yesterday's loss was being carried over by the offense today.  Hutch made some lineup changes by moving Dorian Shaw down to the #7 slot and moving Alycia Ryan up to the #3 slot.

The only information I could find out about JT is that she has a day-to-day rotator cuff injury.  No date has been reported by Hutch as to a return date. 

We travel to Wisconsin next weekend for 2 games before coming home for a May 3rd single game against EMU and May 4th DH against tosu.

UPDATE:  #2 ASU swept Zona, #3 Alabama lost to Florida Saturday, #4 Georgia lost to Arkansas, #5 Tennessee lost to Mississippi St.  So we should drop only to #2 possibly #3 in the poll this week.

JT is out indefinately with a rotator cuff injury.  No return date has been announced by Hutched yet.  The injury occured during practice 19APR11.




April 24th, 2011 at 5:37 PM ^

Michigan State in EL this weekend 7-2 and 4-2.  Indiana travels to Urbana to play Illinois on 27APR11 before hosting Iowa this weekend.  It is possible for Indiana to split both series.  Both Iowa and Illinois played us very tight so if they both play well, they each could knock off Indiana.


April 24th, 2011 at 4:25 PM ^

According to mgoblue.com's records, we have 9 more games, all in conference, before the NCAA playoffs.  One of the things you've stressed time and again in your posts is that pitching is incredibly dominant in the college game.  Now that our starting pitcher is injured with no announced return date and our backup is the new starter, with all the issues that brings to the table, how can the team adjust to cover the field better?  I realize the infield can come in closer to cover bunts or quick grounders, but what about playeres who are very good at-bat?  I hope this all makes sense; my knowledge of baseball and softball mechanics is a little shaky.

Also, how are our chances to win the B1G, or a potential NC?


April 24th, 2011 at 5:16 PM ^

First, we have 2 HUGE scheduling advantages.  This is certainly the luck of the draw or the softball gods (lower case) are smiling on us.  We play weak teams and most are at home.

The remaining conference games (8 conference, 9 total) are against teams in the bottom half of the conference.  So that is the luck of the draw.  If the reverse was true, we would be in a hell of a pinch.  We play at Wiscy, EMU, tosu, Minny and MSU (home and home).  So we have only 1 more road trip this weekend, save at MSU.

This cannot be overstated.  Remember, softball players have to take a bus on the away games.  This can have a negative affect especially on a #2 pitcher thrown into the spotlight and required to pitch both games of a double header. 

I dont portend to know what Hutch will do.  She is a master at making adjustments.  However, the Shaw adjustment had to be made.  Dorian has given her heart and soul to the team but in order to be a leader, one has to lead.  She has been less than stellar during conference play.

Hutch will watch game film of each opposing player.  She will determine the hitter's tendency and speed.  She will adjust the infield accordingly based on SS pitching and not JT. 

Now to answer your question directly.  I would not make any other adjustments.  Here is why.  The schedule is weak.  They have 13 combined wins in the conference, we have 9 (as of yesterday).  So if there is anything good about an injury to JT, now is the time.  JT could take the rest of the regular season off to get healthy for the tournament.

The defense has been fairly stable and solid throughout the year.  The only drastic change was the injury to Stephanie Kirkpatrick way back in February but Amy has stepped up nicely.  The infield has an average fielding percentage of about .965 which is great (but not awesome).  We will be ok on defense.

We need to finish atop the Big 10 standings.  This almost guarantees us a home site for the regionals and possibly super regionals.  Indiana has to play Illinois and Iowa.  They are bound to lose at least one of these games.  So if this happens, we can give one more loss and still be in good shape.




April 24th, 2011 at 5:26 PM ^

the second part of your question.  As mentioned above, we are the favorites to win the conference.  6 of the 9 games are at home and the 8 confernece games are against weak teams.  I would be shocked if we didnt finish with the conference title.

As for the NC, that all depends on JT.  A rotator cuff injury in softball is not as damaging as in baseball.  The underhand motion is a natural movement.  They is why some teams (like Indiana) have only 1 main pitcher.  I would be surprised if JT injury lasts more than a week or so.  I have seen this many times in my coaching career and I have never had a girl that required rotator cuff surgery.  Rest and anti-inflamatory drugs usually are enough. 

If JT's injury is serious, we are in trouble.  I dont think Stephanie has the experinece yet to take us to the promised land.  In a year or two, she will have the mojo but not this year.  She is too streaky.  I would still think we make it to the WS but finishing 4 or 5 without JT.


April 25th, 2011 at 8:39 AM ^

I hope you're right that Spidey will develop but right now she's really shaky. Even against Big Ten competition, which isn't close to what we'll see in the tourney, it seems like she's pitching out of trouble almost every inning.

But you make a good point about the schedule. Right now we've just got to hold on until hopefully we get Jordan back. Would be lucky to make it to Super Regionals without her in good form.


April 24th, 2011 at 4:52 PM ^

Rotator cuff injuries are very painful.  Hopefully, it is only a strain that will get better with a little rest.

Michigan is fortunate to have Hilary Payne who was an experienced starter at Loyola Chicago last year. 

Michigan will be able to get through the remainder of the B1G schedule with Payne and Speierman if the bats come alive like they did in the 7th inning today, but they will need Jordan Taylor if they are to be successful in post-season play.


April 24th, 2011 at 11:33 PM ^

I have had both shoulders scoped at one time or another in my life.   I just hope JT injury is not to that extent.  I wonder if she has had a shot yet, to calm down the joint?  This is SOP when treating a shoulder.  A MRI would tell if anything is damaged, I wonder if someone can dig into these details for us?


April 25th, 2011 at 8:32 AM ^

Nothing in that article seemed so terrible, though it didn't say much.

“She’s injured,” Michigan coach Carol Hutchins said, declining explanation on the specifics of Taylor’s injury. “I expect to have her back, but I don’t know when.”

 This is half bad (don't know when) but half good (expects to have her back).

My source never comments on injuries except cryptically -- he knows but he's under orders -- but he occasionally drops hints. When I said something about how much it sucked not having Jordan against Iowa, he said something like, "Yes, it really does suck." He wouldn't have said that if she was just day-to-day.

So I knew this wasn't minor. Also in retrospect it explains why Jordan has been off recently. Without her, you could really see how flat the team was this weekend, too, at least until the bottom of the 7th on Sunday.


April 25th, 2011 at 9:50 AM ^

JT's injury might explain her last couple of uncharacteristic outings.  Maybe she tried to play thru her pain and made it worse.

It looks like the schedule will help the team adjust to being without her and maybe give them some confidence going forward regardless of who's on the mound.

On a personal note, since I live in Madison, I'm going to try and catch Saturday's game.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate.


April 25th, 2011 at 11:13 AM ^

This was a Huge win for Michigan..First they stay in First place tied with Indiana..IU has the toughest part of its conference schedule in front of it while UM has the weakest..Adv UM..Splitting with a very good Iowa team WITHOUT their ace was big and the dramatic way they did it has to build some confidence that they are never out of any game..


UM has a VERY good chance to end the season #1..ASU a team they beat has to go to Wash for a 3 game stretch..UM should win out, Hopefully JT will be rested and ready to go in post-season..If the UM bats come alive (and they will) and Shaw gets on track things are shaping up for a very LONG post season run..We will look back at the come from behind wn over Iowa as the turning point...GO BLUE



April 25th, 2011 at 11:33 AM ^

ASU has 3 against Oregon State, 3 against #10 Washington, and 3 against #11 Stanford.  They are bound to loose one or possibly two in this stretch.  Meanwhile we should win out.  The key word is SHOULD.  With JT out for a while, Stephanie will have to come up big.

Finishing the season #1 really doesnt help that much so I am not worried about it.  We have a great shot at getting the #2 slot this week and then hold it until EOS.  The difference between #1 and #2 should not impact us at all.  At #2 we will still host the super regional.

Get well soon JT.


April 25th, 2011 at 1:04 PM ^

it gives you a easier path to the College World Series and the CWS opening game after that it pretty much even  UM has played the top teams pretty good the last few years..Georgia not with standing they have beaten UCLA ASU AZ and BAMA..in fact they hammered Bama last year TWICE...that #1 seeding gets you a easier regional and then hosting the #16 team in the Super Reg.(and were assuming the #16 team wins the reg) ....I want that #1 seed..


April 25th, 2011 at 2:34 PM ^

Ain't gonna happen. 

Most other softball teams discount the Big 10 big time.  And, strength of schedule, which is one of the components of the seeding, hurts us.  We're currently ranked #9 and have nothing left but the weaker teams in the Big 10, which will only sink us further.

 Our goal ought to be: (1)Win Big 10 without Taylor - offense wake up; (2)Get a #8 or better seed so we can host Super Regional; (3) Get Taylor back so that we can make it to the WCWS.


April 25th, 2011 at 3:45 PM ^

agree with you Scorekeeper.  ASU will have to lose 2 in order for us to leap frog them, assuming we win out.  I suppose it is possible for ASU to lose 1 game and we win out and the coaches give us the #1 rank.

One thing that EVERYONE needs to take into account.  The # 1 ranked team does not guarantee the #1 seed.  Seeding are compiled by the Tournament Committee (similar to Basketball).  There are conference tie-ins and at-large bids that are factored in.

So we could be ranked #1 at the end of the season and still end up with a #2 or #3 seed.  The SEC, Pac-10 and Big-12 are tougher conferences than the Big 10.  The Big 10 has only 1 ranked team, us.  Every other major conference has 2, 3 and even 4 teams in the Top 25.


April 25th, 2011 at 5:25 PM ^

I do not think we will end up with a #2 or #3 seed, even if we do not lose another game.

As you said, the seeds are compiled by the tournament committee and an important component of that is your strength of schedule.  It is real hard to see a team that has a SOS that will likely be in the 10+ range, being seeded in the top 5.

Under normal circumstances - not a young team - Hutchins arranges for a pretty tough non-conference schedule.  She did not do that this year as we were replacing 5 starters - pitcher, catcher, 3rd, center, right field, and DP (Nemitz as both pitcher and DP).  With an injury to ss, we ended up replacing ss as well and defensively we moved Chidester from 2nd to 3rd. 

So, we had a pretty cream puff schedule until the Judi Garman tournament with a handful of other top 50 programs.  We went 4-1 in the tournament and beat the two big teams - Arizona and Arizona State. 

Since the Big 10 is relatively weak this year and no one would have predicted the collapse of NU and OSU, we get penalized a bit in our late season SOS. 

UM can't whine.  Teams come out of the 9-16 slots and end up in the WCWS.  For the fans, we want a #8 seed so we can host both a regional and a super regional.  Otherwise, we should just be ready to take whatever we get. 


April 25th, 2011 at 10:39 PM ^

You were correct last week - that we would be ranked #1. 

While I say we would like a #8 seed, there is an advantage of the better seeds.  Usually the pairing with the 9 - 16 seeds is more favorable.  However, it hasn't really worked out that way for UM.  The committee seems enamored with pairing us with Tennessee.  Last year we lost to TN and two years before that we lost to Va Tech & Tincher who beat TN in the regional.