Feb. 27, 2011
Site: Orlando, Fla. (UCF Softball Complex)
Event: UCF Invitational
Scores: #9 Michigan 9, Maine 0 (6 inn.)
Records: U-M (15-0), Maine (3-7)
Next U-M Event: Tuesday, March 1 -- vs. Valparaiso (Orlando, Fla.), 2 p.m.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- The No. 9-ranked University of Michigan softball team completed its third consecutive weekend sweep in 2011, cruising to a 9-0, six-inning decision over Maine in UCF Invitational finale on Sunday afternoon (Feb. 27) at the UCF Softball Complex. U-M also extended its program-best start to 15-0.
Junior LHP Hilary Payne (Plymouth, Mich./Canton HS) pitched a gem in her first start in a Michigan uniform, striking out five Black Bear batters while allowing just two hits and no walks en route to her second career shutout. It was the Wolverines' fifth shutout performance of the season.
Sophomore second baseman Ashley Lane (Escondido, Calif./Escondido HS) went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two runs batted in to pace the Wolverines from the plate, while senior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) and senior designated player Marley Powers (Owosso, Mich./Owosso HS) each tallied a pair of hits.
Michigan used a series of big innings to garner the its run-rule advantage, scoring two in the first and four in the third before forcing the early end with a two-run top of the sixth.
Shaw kept pace in the Wolverines' early home-run race, opening scoring with a two-out solo shot to leftfield for her seventh long ball of the season. Lane and Powers kept the rally going with singles in the next two at-bats. Lane stole second base to place herself in scoring position, before Powers sent her home with an RBI single to left center.
Shaw also initiated Michigan's third-inning offensive surge with a hard-hit single up the middle. Lane doubled and Powers accepted a walk to load the bases for freshman catcher Caitlin Blanchard (Petersburg, Mich./Summerfield HS), who put the ball in play with a gapper through the right side. The hit scored sophomore pinch runner Jaclyn Crummey (Macomb, Mich./Dakota HS), and the Wolverines tacked on two more runs when the throw to home and subsequent throw to second went wild, allowing Blanchard to pull in safely to third base. Freshman third baseman Taylor Hasselbach (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston HS) took advantage of the runner in scoring position, scoring her classmate on a sacrifice fly to centerfield.
Lane drove in runs on an RBI single in the fourth and a sacrifice fly in the sixth; the latter following freshman rightfielder Lyndsay Doyle's (Channahon, Ill./Minooka Community HS) leadoff triple to rightfield. Powers capped Michigan's scoring for the contest in the next at-bat, smacking an RBI double to the gap in right centerfield.
After a day's rest, the Wolverines will continue their spring-break trip slate on Tuesday (March 1), remaining in Orlando, Fla., for a pair of games against Valparaiso (2 p.m.) and host Central Florida (7 p.m.) at the UCF Softball Complex.
N O T E S
Today's slate marked the first ever meeting between Michigan and Maine. The Wolverines faced three first-time opponents at this weekend's UCF Invitational.
The Wolverines improved their program-best start to 15-0 with the weekend sweep. They have outscored their competition, 122-20.
Sophomore second baseman Ashley Lane's three-hit performance matched her career best. She also tallied three hits against Southern Illinois in the season opener on Feb. 11 and against Central Florida on Feb. 25.
Freshman leftfielder Nicole Sappingfield extended her hitting streak to 10 straight games, dating back to U-M FAU Kick-Off Classic opener against Long Island. She has hit .455 (15-for-33) over the stretch with six runs scored and six RBI.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On junior LHP Hilary Payne ... "She had a great game. She had great composure and poise and was just really sharp. She hit her spots and had great command. I was really pleased. Our goal is give her some more time this week, because we need to see what she can do and how she can help us."
On playing a variety of players today ... "In the last half of that game, there was not one player on the field who had been on the field last year. That's really something. I'm not sure if I've ever seen that. It's good for us to get a chance to do that, because we need to get them time. These young kids need to play. They need experience. We need to get them at bats and time on the field competing. So, I was happy we were able to do that today."
On the weekend performance ... "We seemed like we were a little flat around the edges most of the weekend. It's the third weekend on the road, and the kids weren't as up as I would have liked to see. But we worked through it. We had to gut through it, and we did. We had a couple tight games, and I thought we weren't as good as we needed to be. You want to see them toughen up through it. You certainly don't want to see them blow everybody out. If guess if we're going to have lulls, you'd rather see it in February than at the end of the year."
U-M Freshman Nicole Sappingfield
On the team's weekend sweep ... "I feel like in any situation, we've been performing well. Whether we're only up by one or if we're down a run or tied, we find the inspiration and encouragement to step up and perform the way we need to."
On her transition to college ... "It's actually been a lot smoother than I expected it to be. My teammates have done a great job of picking me up and helping me play to the level that I need to. It really hasn't been too nerve racking, because my teammate and coaches treat me like I'm one of them and like I've been here for the last four years. So, there's really no room to be nervous."
On the underclassmen ... "Just because I'm a freshman, it doesn't mean I'm any less capable of performing like anyone else. In those instances when the upperclassmen don't perform like they want to, it's even more important for the underclassmen to step up and perform as they would."
U-M Sophomore Ashley Lane
On the difference from last season to this season ... "I think it's just been having more opportunity to play, getting in there, having a starting position and proving myself in every game. Last year, I was more of a pinch hitter; I was just thrown in here and there, and that was my role. Now with consecutive at-bats, I'm really able to see more pitching. That's helped me a lot. I'm seeing the ball better. I'm gaining more confidence. There are a lot of things that come with that."
On her power hitting ... "I've always been a power hitter. That's one of my attributes. But even I'm surprised by the amount of home runs I've had lately. We've been working hard in practice and in the weight room, so that's probably helped a lot."
On the sophomore class ... "With the opportunity that Hutch has given us, we're just out there trying to take the roles we're given and really prove ourselves. So far, we've done that to the best of our ability. With the number of great veterans we have and all the freshmen, we really wanted to asset ourselves. We knew this would be the season of a lot of underclassmen in the lineup, and Amy [Knapp] and I have really tried to step up. I'm really excited about our team, considering how young we are and how well we're going."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423