NSD is over, now we can focus on...

Submitted by MGoSoftball on February 1st, 2012 at 8:39 PM

SOFTBALL.  That's right, its almost softball season.  Michigan Softball opens the 2012 season on 10FEB12 in Baton Rouge in the LSU Tourney.

This year will be an interesting year for the ladies.  We lose some serious senior leadership in Jordan Taylor and Dorian Shaw.  Replacing just one of these would be difficult enough, let alone both.  Coach Hutch will certainly have her hands full.

The good news is that although we lost the best pitcher in Michigan history (IMHO), Jr. Stephanie should be able to step in and perform to Michigan Standards.  Now Jordan's shoes are very large, Stephanie did a good (not great) job last year.  Her numbers were very similar to Jordan's; however it appreared that Stephanie struggled with stamina and needed help in some big games. 

Jordan pitched 241.1 innings, her record was 31-5, and pitched 30 complete games.  Stephanie pitched in 122.2 innings, her record was 18-1, and pitched in 6 complete games.  Her stats are acceptable because she was learning and growing.  Now its her time so shine and I think she will be just fine.

The other loss is Dorian.  Coach Huch will probably give Sophomore Mandy Gardner an opportunity to play first base.  Mandy is 6' and has better range than Dorian.  Last year Mandy hit only .083 in 15 games.  But I have seen her take BP a few times and let me tell you; she is going to be just fine.

Now for the positives; my All-American choice Ashley Lane is back for her junior year.  She led the team in HR, Slg % and was a close second in RBIs.  She was thrown into the starting 2nd baseman's position after the injury to Stephanie Kirkpatrick.  Lane struggled early last year on defense but settled in very nicely.  She will only improve.

Another positive is the return of Stephanie Kirkpatrick.  She blew out her knee early in the season during a freaky play.  She had surgery in March and was walking just fine in May.  Stephanie has awesome range, is quick as a jack rabbit and can hit for power and average.

Nicole Sappingfield's knee injury late in the season was a major blow to us.  It was obvious that we missed her speed on the basepaths late and during the playoffs.  She was walking on it in the regionals but I dont know if she had surgery or not.

Bree Evans is back for her senior year.  This young lady is a real treat to watch.  She reminds me of the story about Babe Ruth calling his shot.  Well Bree calls her own shot every single pitch.  The entire world knows she is going to slap, and I think this game-plan has been translated in over 10 languages.  No one can get her out consistantly as she scoots down the line.  Bree probably leads the nation in infield hits, including 1 infield double that I witnessed.

Amanda Chidester will be a beast this year. She exploded into elite status with last year's transition to 3B when Kirkpatrick when down.  Chiddy has much room to grow as well; with off-season workouts, expect a few more bombs at Alumni Field.

Keep an eye on incoming freshmen Haley Wagnar (LHP-CA) and Sara Driesenga (RHP-Grand Rapids Mi).  Both of these young ladies should factor in our successearly should Stephanie stumble a little.

Overall, this will be a team of adjustment.  If we can get settled in early; look out.  If we get a slow start, we could have a little trouble.  Lets not forget the goal:  Win the B1G.

In a few days, I will provide a Big Ten Preview as well as introducing two more high-end recruits to the Michigan Family.  GO BLUE

 

 

 

Comments

NOLA Wolverine

February 1st, 2012 at 11:49 PM ^

2008 was the first year under Adidas. We went 3-8. Ipso-facto, wearing Adidas caused us to experience a 3 year slide. It's simple statistics. 

But really, I just think the jerseys they supply Michigan have looked really cut rate. With the exception of what ever jersey model (it's not TechFit) it is they made the UTL and Sugar Bowl jerseys out of. Those looked normal. 

BlueBadger

February 1st, 2012 at 8:54 PM ^

I'll admit I don't follow softball that closely, but my impression has always been that the B1G's main purpose is to be fodder for our team's easy victories. This is one of those sports (like hockey, swimming, maybe gymnastics) where the goal every year is a National Championship!

MGoSoftball

February 1st, 2012 at 9:00 PM ^

of our leader, "the B1G is the goal.  You cant expect to go to the next level if you dont win the B1G".

The B1G is improving overall in softball.  Illinois is a top 20 team.  Indiana impressed a few people last year and Penn State is always good.  Last year Ohio State was last which is a surprise.  Typically ohio is in the top tier of the B1G.

Alton

February 1st, 2012 at 9:22 PM ^

Don't forget the newest member of the B1G--the Cornhuskers.  They are going to bring up the level of play in the conference as well.

Of course, Michigan has a ridiculously easy B1G schedule this season, skipping Nebraska, Northwestern and Iowa in the new 24-game slate (3 games against 8 of the teams, 0 games against the other 3).

RickH

February 1st, 2012 at 8:59 PM ^

Why do you like softball so much?  Just wondering, because it's not the usual sport to be a huge fan of.  Hopefully we can score lots of goals this year.  Right guys?

MGoSoftball

February 1st, 2012 at 9:09 PM ^

I have 2 daughters and no sons.  I was a baseball nut in my youth so I taught my daughters softball.  As my daughters grew and got better, I grew with them.  I attended every camp that I could (Hutch's, CMU, Wayne State).  I then went full bore into softball by coaching the area's first Travel Softball team.  As my daughter moved into college, I coached her D1 Club Team.

I still coach travel softball at the High School level.  It is a real treat to see the ladies improve and play at such a high level.  There are a few of us softball lovers on this board. SouthBend Wolverine, Anton, and Blue Dragon to name a few.

I try to get to as many SB games as I can.  I am not taking any classes this semester so it will be difficult to get to AA for SB games but I will make a few of them.

mGrowOld

February 1st, 2012 at 9:21 PM ^

l spent an afternoon in New Orleans with my avatar,  MGoSoftball and his better half watching football, drinking beer and eating wonderful (but deadly) bar food at Cooter Browns and I can attest that nobody know's more about softball than he does.  He has a passion for the sport (and all things Michigan I might add) which is one of the cool things about this blog and the people you meet on it.  You find people with interests across all sports which keeps the conversations lively and topical.  

Let's face it - Michigan's softball team is a national powerhouse and has been for a while.  And without our friend MGoSoftball we would not have the board coverage we enjoy thanks to him.

A tip of my Michigan hat to you sir.

MichiganMan_24_

February 1st, 2012 at 9:10 PM ^

Softball is cool and all..hope they win a title blah blah (i really like softball but blah)

Its beautiful outside ... LETS HAVE THE SPRING GAME NEXT WEEK !

Im excited about the football team ...and thats a big deal considering the 3 years we went through.

Picktown GoBlue

February 1st, 2012 at 9:17 PM ^

Not sure if our schedule will work out to catch any games in person, but will certainly watch for U of M on BTN.  Team will certainly miss those outgoing seniors - will they leave the scoreboard forever broken to remember the Class of 2011 (that was Dorian, right?)?

magnus_caerulus (not verified)

February 1st, 2012 at 9:31 PM ^

is the softball team. Most associate Candrea as the best college sb coach ever. Hutch may not have the nc titles yet, but her record both in the big and against top DI schools is rarely paralleled. The last 15-20 years is scary successful. We have had some brutal match-ups in the super regionals for the last five years, but still a title and ws appearance.

An Angelo's Addict

February 1st, 2012 at 9:23 PM ^

volleyball gents. you every see the maize and blue ladies in those volleyball shorts? not sure how/why those girls are required to wear something so tight and short, but god bless whoever  made it up

MGoSoftball

February 1st, 2012 at 10:10 PM ^

cant seal the deal then they will have to bring in the master recruiter.  The warm weather schools sell themselves for softball.

Most of our girls come from warmer states.  So what do you think would draw them to oaver 10 feet of snow per year?  Skiing?  I think not.  Its the opportunity to play for Coach Hutch and to get the best education in the world.

 

NOLA Blue

February 1st, 2012 at 9:30 PM ^

I just may be able to get my fiancee to make the trek for the weekend... nothing like a matchup between M and LSU to test out the strength of our bond.  And we all know this is going to be tough for her. :)

MGoSoftball

February 1st, 2012 at 10:08 PM ^

La. Tech on Friday.  On Saturday we play LSU and then La Tech again.  On Sunday we play Penn State.  So you will have your pick of game to watch.

If you go can you do some scouting for us and take some pics?  The key is how is the Stephanies are playing.  Is S. Spiereman pitching well and is S. Kirkpatrick back to her old self?  Check on Colie for us too.  Her knee should be 100%.

Wolverine Devotee

February 1st, 2012 at 11:02 PM ^

I wish Michigan had a home series during Spring Game weekend. I could have a 3-sport weekend (Lacrosse, Football, Softball).

Hopefully the ladies can bring home a 5th straight B1G Championship and make a run in the NCAA tournament. Really thought they were gonna win it all last year.

I noticed they have a freshman pitcher (Sara Driesenga) who is pretty tall and I have heard good things about her. Returning Bree Evans is a good thing because she was an automatic hit almost everytime she was up to bat.

As for lacrosse, it's gonna be a rough season since they're transitioning. But don't just think they are gonna lay down and die because they're playing national powers like denver and north carolina on the road. This team has good players, and they know how to win big games. If the lax program follows the model the men's soccer program has, a B1G Championship and a National Semifinal appearance by year 10 as an NCAA level program? I think we'll be in good shape. Hell, they might even do it sooner than that IMO. Very successful history in the sport dating back to 1940.

The mid-winter through spring is a very exciting time for Michigan athletics and for me. Hockey and Basketball will be in the postseason, Baseball and Softball season beginning and especially Lacrosse now being unleashed upon the NCAA.