U-M Splits Opening Day: Win over No. 25 USF, Loss to No. 4 Florida
Caitlin Blanchard

Feb. 8, 2014

• Boxscores: Florida | USF
• Photo Galleries: Florida | USF

Site: Tampa, Fla. (USF Softball Stadium)
Event: USF Wilson Demarini Tournament
Scores: #4 Florida 9, #5 Michigan 4 (8 inn.); #5 Michigan 3, #25 USF 2
Records: U-M (1-1), Florida (4-0), USF (1-2)
Next U-M Event: Sunday, Feb. 9 -- vs. Illinois State, vs. Bethune-Cookman - USF Wilson Demarini Tournament (Tampa, Fla.), 9 a.m./11:15 a.m.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Senior Caitlin Blanchard (Petersburg, Mich./Summerfield) delivered a two-out, two-run base hit in the top of the sixth off All-America pitcher Sara Nevins to give the No. 5-ranked University of Michigan softball team a 3-2 win over No. 25 USF on Saturday (Feb. 8) at the USF Wilson Demarini Tournament. The Maize and Blue dropped the first game of its season-opening doubleheader to No. 4 Florida, 9-4, in eight innings.

In the nightcap, freshman Abby Ramirez (Chicago, Ill./Trinity) and senior Lyndsay Doyle (Channahon, Ill./Minooka Community) legged out infield singles to start U-M's offense in the sixth. Each moved up a base, and sophomore Sierra Romero (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta) received an intentional walk to load the bases for Blanchard. U-M's clean-up hitter fell behind in the count 1-2 before fouling off three straight pitches and sending a frozen rope into center, scoring Ramirez and Doyle.

Blanchard's two-run single came after Nevins worked out of trouble in several innings. U-M took eight walks through Nevins' 6.1 innings pitched. The Maize and Blue loaded the bases in the first and fourth but came away with nothing. Through five innings, U-M stranded nine runners.

Michigan tallied its first run in the second when freshman Lindsay Montemarano (Seaford, N.Y./Seaford) came around from second on a dropped pop up.

Freshman Megan Betsa (McDonough, Ga./Union Grove) went the distance in the circle to collect her first collegiate win. She struck out six -- including the side in the third inning -- and surrendered a solo home run in the second and a fourth-inning leadoff walk that came around to score.

In Michigan's season opener game against Florida, a seventh-inning Gator surge wiped out a 4-0 deficit and led to a 9-4 victory over the Wolverines in eight innings.

Michigan was cruising through six innings and had two outs in the seventh when the Gators strung together four hits, which were followed by a U-M error, a hit batter and one walk to tie the game. Then in UF's half of the eighth, a pair of two-run homers gave the Gators their first lead.

Sophomore Sara Driesenga (Hudsonville, Mich./Hudsonville) was the pitcher of record, tossing 7.1 innings in all. She was pulled in the seventh for Betsa and reentered two batters later.

Through six innings, Michigan limited the Gators to two hits and no walks. Only one UF runner reached scoring position -- Taylor Schwarz, who was stranded at second in fifth.

Romero supplied all U-M's runs with her third-inning grand slam. Sophomore Kelsey Susalla (Garden City, Mich./Garden City),Ramirez and Doyle started the offense ahead of Romero with three straight hits. Blanchard had two hits for the Maize and Blue, including a leadoff double in the second.

The Maize and Blue will conclude its opening weekend on Sunday (Feb. 9) against Illinois State and Bethune Cookman in the final day of the USF Wilson Demarini Tournament in Tampa, Fla. The first game begins at 9 a.m.


• Michigan is now 24-12-1 in season openers.

• The Wolverines are now 8-4 all-time against Florida and 12-6 against USF.

• All four of Michigan's freshmen made their first collegiate starts today: Kelly Christner and Abby Ramirez against Florida and Lindsay Montemarano and Megan Betsa against USF.

Sierra Romero hit the fourth grand slam of her U-M career, moving her into a tie for fourth place on U-M's career list (Marley Powers, Marissa Young).

Abby Ramirez picked up her first collegiate hit in her first at-bat, a bunt single against Florida in the third inning.

• Against Florida, Kelsey Susalla made her second career start at third base (last: Central Michigan on Apr. 23, 2013).

Lindsay Montemarano picked up her first collegiate hit in her first at-bat. She smacked a double to centerfield on the first pitch she saw.

• Christner collected her first collegiate hit in the fifth inning against USF, a double to centerfield.

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