March 13, 2010
Site: Louisville, Ky. (Ulmer Stadium)
Event: Red & Black Tournament
Scores: #5 Michigan 9, #18 Louisville 5; #5 Michigan 4, Hofstra 3 (8 inn.)
Records: U-M (16-4), Louisville (15-7), Hofstra (10-2)
Next U-M Event: Sunday, March 14 -- vs. Hofstra (Louisville, Ky.), noon; at Louisville (Louisville, Ky.), 4 p.m.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The No. 5-ranked University of Michigan softball team rallied to a pair of wins on the opening day of competition at the Red and Black Tournament, defeating No. 18 Louisville, 9-5, and Hofstra, 4-3 in eight innings, on Saturday (March 13) at Louisville's Ulmer Stadium.
Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS) starred from the plate and the pitching circle, going 4-for 5 with six runs batted in on the day while picking up the victory against Hofstra with a seven-strikeout, three-hit effort through seven innings. Senior rightfielder Angela Findlay (Lockport, Ill./East HS) posted a 2-for-3 effort with two RBI in the first slate, while junior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) matched a career best with three hits against the Pride.
Junior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) rebounded from a rough start in the day's opening game against host Louisville, striking out 11 while giving up five hits and three walks. Taylor closed out the nightcap, going 1-2-3 with two strikeouts in the eighth inning for her second save of the season.
Michigan needed extra innings to take down Hofstra in the nightcap, taking advantage of Pride miscues to push two runs across in the top of the eighth. Sophomore leftfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) started the inning on base via the international tiebreaker and was quickly advanced to third on a Findlay sacrifice hit. Senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo./Eureka HS) accepted a full-count walk and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Senior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) drove both runners home in the next at-bat, smacking a hard grounder to shortstop, where Hofstra's Trisha Dreslinski misplayed the hope, allowing the ball to skipped into the outfield and both Evans and Viefhaus to cross the plate.
The Pride responded with a run in the home half of the seventh -- on a run-scoring single up the middle -- but Taylor set down the next three in order, using just 10 pitches to close out the game.
Hofstra took the first lead in the contest and not without a bit a controversy. The Pride loaded the bases on a pair of walks and single down the leftfield line before designated player Olivia Galati sent a fielder's choice to second base. Sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) relayed the throw home and appeared to earn the force out of the lead runner, but after a brief consultation, the umpires determined that Chidester had tagged out the runner headed to second, eliminating the force opportunity at home. As a result, the Pride run counted.
Nemitz helped her own cause in the next inning, following Shaw's single up the middle with a two-run blast off the scoreboard in right centerfield. The run, which provided Michigan the temporary lead, was Nemitz's first of the season.
Hofstra evened the score in the fourth, using three consecutive singles, including an RBI chopper through the right side gap from rightfielder Tessa Ziemba, to force the extra frame.
Michigan won a wild one in its tournament opener, rallying past host Louisville behind a pair of big innings and solid pitching down the stretch.
The Cardinals established an early five-run cushion with back-to-back multi-run innings. They led off the game with three straight base hits, including an RBI triple to deep centerfield from Kristin Austin and Vanessa James' subsequent RBI single through the right side gap. Louisville's Jordan Trimble drove in three more runs in the second frame, connecting with the 2-1 pitch and sailing it over the leftfield fence. It was just the fifth homer allowed by Taylor this season.
After squandering opportunities in each of the opening two frames, Michigan broke through in the third, manufacturing four runs off three hits, a walk and a fielding error. Findlay kicked off the inning with a leadoff double off the leftfield fence and, after advancing on a Viefhaus poke to shallow centerfield, trotted home when the Louisville shortstop failed to cleanly field a chopper. Shaw accepted a walk in the next at-bat to load the bases, setting the stage for Nemitz, who smacked a three-run double to the fence in rightfield.
With the Wolverines on the board, Taylor found her groove, striking out the side in the bottom of the third on just 11 pitches. She allowed just one hit in the final five innings of the contest.
Michigan took the lead for good with another four-run effort in the fifth. Nemitz initiated the offensive surge with one out, smacking a low liner up the middle before moving to third on sophomore shortstop Stephanie Kirkpatrick's (Plainfield, Ill./Central HS) double to right centerfield. After a successful fielder's choice loaded the bases, Evans accepted a full-count walk to bring home a run, and Findlay provided her team its first advantage in the next at-bat, sending a low chopper into shallow rightfield to score two. Evans scored one batter later when Viefhaus sent a fielder's choice into second base territory.
Nemitz added another RBI in the sixth, following back-to-back base hits with the Wolverines' first sacrifice fly of the season. Shaw blooped a double into shallow leftfield, avoiding the glove of a sliding Cardinals outfielder, and Chidester dribbled a successful bunt into the gap right of the circle to move her to third base. In the subsequent at-bat, Nemitz connected with the 1-2 pitch and drove it deep into leftfield to round out Michigan's scoring.
The Cardinals provided a momentary scare in the bottom of the seventh, putting two on with a leadoff double and subsequent full-count walk. But Taylor responded with back-to-back strikeouts -- on eight pitches -- before forcing a foul out for the game's final out.
The Wolverines will return to action tomorrow (Sunday, March 14) to wrap up competition at the Red and Black Tournament. U-M will face Hofstra at noon before closing out with a 4 p.m. slate against host Louisville at Ulmer Stadium.
With today's victories, Michigan improved to 12-1 in the all-time series against Louisville and 5-0 in the series against Hofstra.
Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz's three-hit effort against Louisville matched a career best. She previously registered three hits on three occasions, most recently against Louisiana Lafayette one year ago today (March 13, 2009). The multi-hit performance was her second of the season.
Junior first baseman Dorian Shaw also matched a career best with three hits against Hofstra. She previously tallied three hits -- all home runs -- against Baylor in the 2009 NCAA Super Regional. Shaw owns six multi-hit games on the season.
With her save in the nightcap, junior RHP Jordan Taylor moved into a tie for Michigan career saves record with nine. She shares the record with Nicole Motycka (2002-05).
Shaw and sophomore shortstop Stephanie Kirkpatrick both extended their hitting streaks to four games with hits in both of today's slates. They share Michigan's current long hit streak.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On senior LHP Nikki Nemitz ... "She was on at the plate and thankfully so. She's hasn't been hitting the way she's capable of -- and we all know what she's capable of -- so it was good to see her break out. It looked like she was seeing the ball, looked comfortable, so that was great to see. On the mound, Nikki is still working through it. She's working really hard at it. She did a good job of doing her part, and then Jordan [Taylor] came in and finished it for her. That's a good team effort."
On Michigan's rally against Louisville ... "Sometimes when you're down by something that seems insurmountable, you don't have anything to lose. I think our mentality changed, and then when the game got closer, we weren't as effective for a while. Maybe it's a lesson we can learn. Every pitch is the same. Whether you're ahead or behind, the game doesn't know that. We need to play every pitch like that. I know what these kids are capable of, and that's why I get upset with them when they underachieve. They're all capable. The key is consistency; that's what I'm looking for."
On junior RHP Jordan Taylor's rebound effort against Louisville ... "She didn't come out and pitch the way she's capable of. I don't think she was in her one-pitch focus as well as she's been. She didn't like the mound, but you can't let the mound control you. I think once she settled in and quit focusing on the fact that she didn't like the mound, she certainly threw better and her team came back and got her some runs."
On junior first baseman Dorian Shaw ... "She is a presence. We're starting to see teams pitch around her, and she's doing a good job of managing the zone and taking walks. We'll take her on base. Anything they give us, we'll take. So, we're pleased with that in the middle of the lineup, especially when we've got someone like Nikki [Nemitz] hot behind her. That's a good combination to have."
On senior catcher Roya St. Clair's extra-inning at-bat ... "During an at-bat, no matter what happened in the previous pitches, it's only about one pitch to make something good happen. Roya has done a really good job of trying to do what she's capable of doing. We needed her to put the ball in play and put it down. Bree [Evans] was going on that pitch if it's on the ground, and she was going to score anyway. Fortunately, it worked out that we got two runs. I give Roya a lot of credit for battling through that at-bat. She was down and behind, but she found a way to make it go our way."
U-M Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz
On having a big day at the plate ... "I haven't started out the season so great. So, I just wanted to take the approach of hitting the ball hard, seeing it and working on throwing my hands. That's the only thing I was worrying about. My coaches told me that if my approach was good, I'd have some good results. I guess they were right."
On finding success in pitching and hitting ... "That's why I love softball. I love being a hitting pitcher. I get to help myself and contribute to the team on both ends of the game. It felt good. It feels good to finally be back where I'm at and help my team out."
On Michigan's ability to rally ... "We have a lot of people returning from last year, and last year we went on losing streaks or had a lot tough games where we were down and had to fight back. This team knows how to win. The game's not over until the seventh inning and third out. We're used to fighting back; I think it's just something we're good at."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423