U-M Utilizes Late Runs to Down Louisville, Early Scores to Beat Hilltoppers

March 12, 2011

Boxscores: Louisville | Western Kentucky
Notes & Quotes

Site: Louisville, Ky. (Ulmer Stadium)
Event: Louisville Tournament
Scores: #6 Michigan 4, Louisville 1; #6 Michigan 7, Western Kentucky 1
Records: Michigan (24-0), Louisville (12-7), Western Kentucky (13-6)
Next U-M Game: Sunday, March 13 -- vs. Western Kentucky (Louisville, Ky.), 11 a.m.; at Louisville (Louisville, Ky.), 1 p.m.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The No. 6-ranked University of Michigan softball team cruised to a pair of victories to open play at the Louisville Tournament, defeating host Louisville, 4-1, and Western Kentucky, 7-1, on Saturday afternoon (March 12) at Ulmer Stadium.

Junior centerfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) headlined the Wolverines' offensive efforts with a 4-for-8 effort from the plate, registering three runs scored and a run batted in. Freshman catcher Caitlin Blanchard (Petersburg, Mich./Summerfield HS) and sophomore second baseman Ashley Lane (Escondido, Calif./Escondido HS) posted a two-hit performance apiece -- with Lane earning three RBI against WKU -- while freshman leftfielder Nicole Sappingfield (Norco, Calif./Norco HS) extended her hitting streak to 19 games -- the longest recorded streak in Michigan softball history.

Senior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) and sophomore RHP Stephanie Speierman (Columbia, Md./Hammond HS) both improved on their perfect season records with solid complete-game efforts. Taylor struck out nine Louisville batters in the first slate, allowing nine hits and a walk to move to 12-0, while Speierman fanned six and gave up six hits and two walks against Western Kentucky to improve to 11-0.

After an uneventful first two innings in the opener, Louisville threatened in the bottom of the third, putting two runners on with outs on a leadoff walk and a bunt base hit in the subsequent at bat. Taylor worked herself out of the jam quickly, issuing a five-pitch strikeout before getting the lead runner on a dribbling fielder's choice and freezing Cardinal first baseman Alicja Wolny on a low outside pitch for the inning's final out.

The Wolverines gave her some run support in the next half inning. After fouling off several and working the count full, Evans looped a leadoff triple into shallow centerfield. Cardinal centerfielder Kristin Austin laid out to make the play but could not come up with the ball as it rolled back to the warning track and allowed Evans her third three-bagger of the season. The extra base proved advantageous when Sappingfield skipped an RBI single through the through right side in the next at bat.

Blanchard notched extra-bases hits to lead off two of the final three innings, including a seventh-inning triple that keyed a late offensive surge for the Wolverines. The Wolverine rookie sent a high flyball toward the left center gap; both Cardinal outfielders converged on the ball, but neither could make the catch. Sophomore shortstop Amy Knapp (St. Joseph, Mich./Lakeshore HS) earned a walk out of an extended 10-pitch at bat and promptly stole second to put two in scoring position for Evans, who slapped a hard grounder up the middle to score Blanchard. Senior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) appeared destined for a walk two batters later after three straight balls, but Louisville LHP Tori Collins put the next two in the zone and Shaw made contact with the latter, lining one past Collins' head into shallow centerfield to drive home two runs.

The Cardinals spoiled Taylor's shutout bid in the home half of the seventh, using three hits and a sacrifice fly to push across their lone run. After putting the leadoff batter on with a bloop single, Louisville tallied back-to-back singles to the left side to load the bases for third baseman Chelsea Bemis, who lifted a deep flyball to rightfield for the RBI.

Michigan took the opposite approach in the second slate against Western Kentucky, scoring the entirety of its seven runs in the opening two innings. With the bases loaded and no outs in the first, junior third baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) put the ball in play, sending a comebacker to the circle. The Lady Toppers got the lead runner at home plate, but in an effort to double up Chidester at first, WKU catcher Megan Johnson launched the ball into rightfield to allow a run to score. Lane smacked a single up the middle to drive in another run in the next at bat.

Freshman rightfielder Lyndsay Doyle (Channahon, Ill./Minooka Community HS) and Evans ran out a pair of infield singles to lead off the second frame -- Doyle beat out a dribbler down the first base line before Evans placed a first-pitch bunt just inches in front of the plate. A groundout moved both runners into scoring position before Shaw accepted an intentional walk to load the bases for Chidester, who lined a two-run double over the WKU shortstop's head into the left center gap. Lane followed suit in the subsequent at bat, lining a two-run double of her own into leftfield. The ball took a bad bounce and ricocheted off the leftfielder's glove to roll to the fence, allowing both Shaw and Chidester to cross home. Knapp drove in Michigan's final run of the afternoon on an RBI single two batters later, skipping a grounder up the middle and just past the extended glove of the Lady Topper second baseman.

After going down 1-2-3 on three pitches in the fifth, the Lady Toppers broke through in the top of the sixth, using small-ball tactics to manufacture their lone run. Taking over on base after a leadoff single, WKU pinch runner Tiffany Gooch advanced on a sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch before coming home on a groundout to second base. Shortstop Amanda Thomas knocked a deep ball into leftfield in the next at bat, but Sappingfield chased it down and ended the inning on a running grab.

The Wolverines will wrap up play at the Louisville Tournament tomorrow (Sunday, March 13), squaring off against Western Kentucky at 11 a.m. before facing host Louisville at 1 p.m. at Ulmer Stadium in Louisville, Ky.


• With its wins today, Michigan improved to 14-1 in the all-time series against Louisville and 2-0 in the all-time series against Western Kentucky.

• Freshman leftfielder Nicole Sappingfield has hit .446 (29-for-65) with 15 runs scored and 15 RBI over her current 19-game hitting streak.

• Junior third baseman Amanda Chidester extended her hitting streak to a career-long 10 games. Over her current streak, Chidester has tallied six multi-hit efforts.

• Senior first baseman Dorian Shaw used her two-run single against Louisville to up her career RBI total to 161 and moved to the fifth position among Michigan's all-time leaders in the category. She needs just three more to reach the fourth spot, currently held by Stefanie Volpe (164, 1999-2002).

• Senior RHP Jordan Taylor collected her 88th career win with the Louisville decision, earning a share of the fourth spot among Michigan's all-time winningest pitchers. She shares the position with Marissa Young (2000-03) and needs four more wins to reach the third spot, currently held by Nikki Nemitz (92, 2007-10). With her career record of 88-13, Taylor currently boasts a .871 career winning percentage -- the best in Wolverine program history.


Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On today ... "Some days, things come easier than others. Today we had to work through it. We just need to stay in our process. I think with some of our at bats, we weren't in our process at all, but I give us credit for hanging in there. It doesn't matter if you score in the first inning or the seventh inning. I thought Jordan [Taylor] did a nice job. Some days we're going to rely on her; some days we're going to rely on somebody else. She picked us up, and we hung in there. I'm still looking for us to get better one day at a time. This is our fifth road trip in a row, and we're all feeling the effects from it. No excuses though; we need to show up to play."

U-M Junior Centerfielder Bree Evans
On the success of Michigan's 1-2 hitters ... "We just need to get on base -- whether it's by error, walk or hit -- so our big hitters can get us in. If I struggle first, it's great to see [Nicole Sappingfield] get herself on base and put us in position to get that run. As long as we keep getting on base, we're doing our part and it's helping the team.

On Michigan's offense today ... "Our at bats and our hitting weren't top notch in these games. We were swinging at bad pitches at the beginning. That started to improve throughout the game, but that's something we still need to be mindful of. You could see that when we were waiting to hit the pitch we were supposed to hit, we were able to get those runs across. Jordan [Taylor] pitched great. In that second game, we were hitting well at the beginning, seeing the ball great, but just kind of died down late. If we can just be a little more consistent throughout the entire game, we'll be in great shape."

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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