Michigan Softball's 18 year run as a ranked team ends

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on February 19th, 2019 at 6:30 PM

Michigan started low in the preseason poll at #19 and climbed up to #17 after a decent showing to open the season.

But 3 losses to unranked teams (Louisville, x2 North Carolina) this past weekend and only a single win (Louisville) dropped Michigan out of the NFCA Top-25 Poll for the first time since April 11, 2001.

That ends a streak of 270 weeks of being a ranked team. 

During that run, Michigan won the 2005 National Championship, made 8 trips to the Women's College World Series, won 14 B1G Championships and 4 B1G Tournament titles.

The last time Michigan Softball played a game as an unranked team was April 15, 2001 in an 8-0, mercy rule victory over #21 Wisconsin in Madison. Michigan is 

The NFCA Poll began in 1995. There have been 357 polls released. Michigan has been ranked in 353 of them.

Michigan sits just outside the Top-25 as the first team out of the rankings. We'll have a great opportunity to get back in next week with two games at #9 LSU this weekend in a tournament where Michigan will also face Stanford, Cal State Northridge and Memphis. 

Michigan begins life as an unranked team on Friday against Stanford in Baton Rouge, LA at 3:30pm.

 

Comments

Wendyk5

February 20th, 2019 at 10:54 PM ^

My daughter is a sophomore and is doing the camps right now. You are correct in that they can't contact her until she's a junior, but she can reach out to them with emails and get instruction from the coaches at the camps.                                                                                                                                                       

rob f

February 19th, 2019 at 7:23 PM ^

I'd hate to see Coach Hutch fired or even on the "hot seat" over this. 

Would a phone call and personal apology from her to you suffice, WD?

Solecismic

February 19th, 2019 at 7:31 PM ^

I have to admit I'm surprised by this. The ratings indicate she's as good a recruiter as ever. Really bad luck that the power-hitting 1B frosh from last year - top ten recruit nationally - hasn't been able to contribute so far. Lots of pieces in place, though. I would also be surprised if they don't get right back in.

M Ascending

February 20th, 2019 at 8:09 AM ^

I have been a huge M softball fan over the years and attend many of the games.  I have to say, this has been trending for the last couple of years, ever since the Sierras (Romero and Lawrence) graduated.  The offense has simply melted away -- not enough power and, most critically, not enough clutch hitting, as we strand an inordinate number of runners on base.  I don't understand why, as Hutch's recruiting seems to be at a high level.  But, something is wrong down at Alumni Field.  Another part of it seems to be lack of leadership among the players. Romo was the rah-rah player that everyone looked up to and followed. She was a great motivator. There has not been an adequate replacement for her in those terms.  I hope this gets turned around, but I'm not sure it will this year.

BG Wolverine

February 20th, 2019 at 10:37 AM ^

Agreed, weak offense puts a lot of pressure on pitching making them press, which makes them not play their best.  Work hard this year, back on top next year.  No big deal, it happens.  I also think some of these kids come in with a lot of miles on them.  Beaubien for instance has pitched pretty much year round since she was 10 or 11 probably before getting to college.  It will take its toll eventually.

MGoBlue00

February 21st, 2019 at 11:10 PM ^

This is exactly right. Sierra Lawrence was so overlooked because Romero was so good, and it was exciting when either one of them came to the plate. There is nobody on the roster now that you feel like you have to watch...although I was in Tampa and the freshman left fielder Lexie Blair looks like she is going to be very good. Something else I noticed in Florida is how much smaller (physically) Michigan is than teams like Florida and Arizona. Beaubien will be fine, we'll get into Big Ten play and win our fair share of games, but this team needs a big time infusion of offensive talent.

Maize4Life

February 19th, 2019 at 8:02 PM ^

I think we all have to come to terms with this year being probably one of the toughest year weve had in a long long time..I guess we were due..Like last year this team has no hitting..no big hitters and again no timely hitting..decent pitching but without the hitting its going to be a long season..The upcoming non con schedule is BRUTtAL and we will lose many of those games..that wont rule us out in the Big Ten but we will be forced to the road for regionals and thats a long shot to get out of the regionals..Unless they go on a tear against all the tough non con teams we are going to have a bunch of loses

tigerd

February 19th, 2019 at 8:21 PM ^

The lack of power in the middle of the line-up is alarming. It's been sliding since Romero graduated and has come to a full scale power outage. Hutch has been reaching with some of her line-ups trying to find the magic formula but so far to no avail. Hopefully she can figure something out as their pitching definitely is top 25 . 

jmblue

February 19th, 2019 at 8:33 PM ^

It's so weird to me that softball season is going on in February.  Incredible that Hutchins has made us a national power in this climate.

MaizeBlueA2

February 19th, 2019 at 10:54 PM ^

How? No students. Competing against MLB as it's season heats up. People have things to do in the summer.

Sure the SEC and major programs would do well, but how is the NCAA making more money? It would hurt more schools than it helped and the schools that it helped already sell out ala LSU.

Baseball has STRONGLY considered it because student-athletes miss so much class time with a midweek and and a 3 game series on the weekend. Nothing to do with revenue. 

Lacrosse would probably benefit from it. Less competition in the spring.

Dawggoblue

February 20th, 2019 at 10:46 AM ^

So football can compete with the NFL, basketball with NBA, and Hockey with the NHL, but Baseball and Softball could never compete with MLB?  Try again.

Also, the lack of students would be overcome by families that would come out and watch.  Remember that baseball and softball only need a few thousand to fill the stands.  When the weather is 60+, people are going to show up. 

I took my niece to the Big Ten Tournament last year in Madison.  It was miserable the entire time.  The stadium was half full at best.

Michigan Arrogance

February 20th, 2019 at 8:52 AM ^

The lack of power has been about what I expected - they lost their best power hitter from last year and frankly there wasn't anyone on the roster that showed they could replace that power. M returned like 7 of 9 starters from a year ago. That's the biggest concern going forward, but there are some young players (the current FR and Lou Allen) who could step up a bit b/c they are still very young/inexperienced.

The bigger concern IMO, however, is Beaubien. She's been very hittable, her K rate I'd bet is way lower than last year. I think that's contributed a bit to the errors on D - many more hard hit balls thus far compared to years past where there would be soft rollers to 2nd/short. She just hasn't been the overpowering P she was last year. I know the staff has worked with her to "spin the ball more" in the off season meaning trying to develop more movement on her pitches. So maybe there's some growing pains there. Hopefully Storako can raise her game a bit (and she's done very well-a bit of a pleasent surprise) until Beaubien can settle in but 2 B pitchers is not as good as one A- and one B- pitcher.

It's still early, and I'd guess UNC is a much improved team from last year (I'd guess they stay in the top 25 most of the year) and UL is usually a quality team as well but right now I'm a little skeptical that M will take the B10 - OSU has slowly been getting better year after year since M alum Kelley Kovach Schoenly took over 6ish years ago. They are legit and Minn is solid as well. I'd say it'll be a coinfip b/t OSU and M at this point. However, M is a pretty young team (1st and 2nd year players at key positions like SS, P; most of their top talent are FR/SO) and I wonder about Hutch trying out some younger players at places like C, 3rd, 1B if the JR/SR class can't generate power at the plate.

 

Spontaneous Co…

February 20th, 2019 at 9:35 AM ^

I have not compared to last year but I feel like we are walking more hitters.  Walks are the seeds of errors.  Ultimately  I think the pitching will come around and end up as good as last year.  There is no real solution for the hitting.  Katie Alexander appears to be the main power threat at this point.  Canfield has power but it seems to show up when it really doesn’t matter.  She is still a good hitter but I feel like her approach changes when the pressure is on.  Unless one of the freshwomen or LouA (if and when she returns) can prove to be a truly dangerous threat every at bat, our lineup is a bunch of replacement level hitters.  Pitchers can just attack our lineup with No worries.  That is not normal for an elite program.  Even OSU last year had two hitters that I was scared of every time they entered the box.  That changes everything.  We have none.

Spontaneous Co…

February 20th, 2019 at 3:04 PM ^

You're right Michigan Arrogance.  We're only 9 games in versus 57 total games last year and we do face stiffer competition in the non-conference so take it for what it is worth. 

Beaubien's ERA is at 3.00 versus 1.16 last year.  Her walk rate per inning is actually down from .21 to .18.  Her K rate per inning is almost identical (1.22 v 1.21) but her hit rate per inning has almost doubled from .46 to .82.  Because of the increased number of hits she would also be seeing more batters per inning which means her K rate per batters faced has actually declined somewhat.  My perception of more walks comes from the fact that the staff, as a whole has a walk rate per inning of .37 which is much higher than last year's .25.  And Schaefer and Storako have walk rates per inning that are three times Beaubien's.  By the way, last year we gave up 16 HR.  We're at 7 already.  And we hit 35 batters last year and are at 12 already this year.

Solecismic

February 20th, 2019 at 5:39 PM ^

OK. But wasn't Beaubien sidelined this fall with an injury to her other arm? Maybe what she's dealing with is *not* having pitched year-round for the first time in ages? It looks like Storako is winning the #2 role. But she's not an elite prospect. A good one, glad to have her. But if you're taking someone who isn't on the elite lists and putting her in meaningful innings against ranked teams in her first collegiate experience? That's a big ask. So I'm not concerned by the pitching decline. I will be if Beaubien doesn't get back to her level from last year. We've definitely seen top pitchers have their careers derailed by injury. I am concerned about the lack of power. Four HRs in nine games, three of them from the senior catcher who wasn't a top recruit? That's definitely a weakness. We'll see as the freshmen get more experience whether that's something that will continue to be a problem. So far, Allan is the only player on the roster who has not appeared in a game. We don't hear about injuries with softball, so speculation is pointless. Just hope she can return.