Wolverines Cap NFCA Leadoff Classic With Win Over Mississippi State
Caitlin Blanchard

Feb. 26, 2012

Box Score

Site: Clearwater, Fla. (Eddie C. Moore Complex)
Event: NFCA Leadoff Classic (Day 3)
Score: #12 Michigan 3, Mississippi State 1
Records: U-M (11-3), MSU (8-5)
Next U-M Event: Wednesday, Feb. 29 -- at USF (Tampa, Fla.), 5 p.m.

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The No. 12-ranked University of Michigan softball team drew seven walks and used timely hitting to knock off Mississippi State, 3-1, in the finale of the NFCA Leadoff Classic on Sunday (Feb. 26) at the Eddie C. Moore Complex.

The U-M offense generated four hits on the afternoon, with two from senior third baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini) and one each from sophomore catcher Caitlin Blanchard (Petersburg, Mich./Summerfield) and junior designated player Ashley Lane (Escondido, Calif./Escondido). Freshman LHP Haylie Wagner (Orange, Calif./El Modena) earned the win, pitching 4.2 innings while giving up one run on four hits. Freshman RHP Sara Driesenga (Hudsonville, Mich./Hudsonville) picked up the save after pitching 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.

The Wolverines broke up the scoreless game with a pair of runs in the fourth inning. Chidester started the inning with a double before Lane fouled out the catcher and freshman outfielder Lauren Sweet (Corona, Calif./Santiago) struck out swinging. With two out, Blanchard put one up the middle and Chidester slid around the tag at home for the Wolverines' first run of the contest. Junior second baseman Amy Knapp's (St. Joseph, Mich./Lakeshore) grounder was mishandled by the first baseman, allowing Blanchard to score from second as Michigan went on top, 2-0.

The Bulldogs scored a run in the fifth inning, forcing Michigan to swap Driesenga for Wagner in the circle in the middle of the inning. Driesenga entered with runners at first and second but got the batter to hit into a fielder's choice as the runner was out at third.

The Maize and Blue tacked on another run in the sixth inning on four consecutive walks issued by the Bulldogs pitching staff. After Blanchard fouled out to start the inning, Knapp, sophomore first baseman Mandy Gardner (Laguna Niguel, Calif./Aliso Niguel) and senior shortstop Stephanie Kirkpatrick (Plainfield, Ill./Central) all drew walks to load the bases for senior centerfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto). Evans reached first base on balls, scoring Knapp and pushing Michigan's lead to 3-1.

Mississippi State singled with two out in the top of the seventh, but Kirkpatrick snagged a line drive from the next batter to end the game.

U-M will remain in Florida for the week, next taking on USF in Tampa on Wednesday (Feb. 29) at 5 p.m.


• Michigan is now 7-1 all-time against Mississippi State.

Amanda Chidester was named to the all-tournament team. It is the second time she has earned all-tourney honors this season.

Sara Driesenga picked up the first save for Michigan this year.

• Michigan finished with a 3-2 record in the NFCA Leadoff Classic. U-M has made 15 appearances in the tournament (1997-2010, 2012), compiling a 56-19 overall record.

Haylie Wagner moved to 7-0 on the season in the circle.

• Michigan played error free for the sixth time this season.

Contact: Sarah VanMetre (734) 763-4423

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