March 13, 2011
Site: Louisville, Ky. (Ulmer Stadium)
Event: Louisville Classic
Scores: Western Kentucky 3, #6 Michigan 2; #6 Michigan 2, Louisville 0
Records: U-M (25-1), WKU (14-7), Louisville (13-8)
Next U-M Game: Thu-Sat., March 17-19 -- at Judi Garman Classic (Fullerton, Calif.)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The No. 6-ranked University of Michigan softball team split a pair of contests on the final day of the Louisville Classic, suffering its first loss of the season against Western Kentucky, 3-2, before rebounding with a 2-0 win over host Louisville on Sunday afternoon (March 13) at Ulmer Stadium.
Freshman rightfielder Lyndsay Doyle (Channahon, Ill./Minooka Community HS) headlined the Wolverines' offensive efforts with a 3-for-6 performance on the day, posting two hits in the day's first game before driving in the winning run in the finale. Sophomore second baseman Ashley Lane (Escondido, Calif./Escondido HS) used a two-run homer to account for both of Michigan's runs against Western Kentucky.
Sophomore RHP Stephanie Speierman (Columbia, Md./Hammond HS) earned the victory against Louisville, improving to 12-0 on the season with a four-strikeout, five-hit performance through five innings. Senior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) struck out 12 against WKU while allowing four hits and three walks en route to her first loss. The Wolverine ace picked up a save in the second contest, giving up one hit and striking out two Cardinal batters in two innings.
After both Michigan and Louisville threatened in the early innings, the Wolverines finally broke through with a run in the fifth inning. Freshman catcher Caitlin Blanchard (Petersburg, Mich./Summerfield HS) smacked a line-drive single up the middle to lead off the inning before her pinch runner, junior Jaclyn Crummey (Macomb, Mich./Dakota HS), stole second and third to put herself in scoring position. With two down late in the inning, Doyle connected with the 1-2 pitch and chipped it over the infield into shallow centerfield to earn the first run batted in of her collegiate career.
The Wolverines cushioned their advantage in the top of the seventh. Lane led off with a fly ball into the right-center gap, and when Cardinal centerfielder Tesha Paysen failed to come up with the ball on a diving attempt, Lane pulled into the third base for the first triple of her career. She came home in the next at-bat when Blanchard lifted a high sacrifice fly into deep centerfield.
Louisville's best opportunities came in the fourth and sixth innings. The Cardinals put two in scoring position in the latter frame before freshman leftfielder Nicole Sappingfield (Norco, Calif./Norco HS) brought a quick end to the threat, sprinting to make a grab in shallow left before gunning a perfect throw to the plate to catch Paysen for the third out.
Taylor entered the game after Louisville put runners on the corners with one outs in the sixth. She persevered through an 11-pitch at-bat to get the first out on a strikeout before needing just five more pitches to force a popup and groundout to get out of the jam.
Michigan saw its 24-game win streak end in the day's opener after trailing for most of the game. The Wolverines narrowed the gap on Lane's two-run homer in the seventh but could not push across the necessary tying run. Junior third baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) accepted a four-pitch walk to initiate the rally with two outs, and after Lane took the next pitch for a ball, Lane hammered out the second she saw, driving a liner over the leftfield fence for her ninth long ball of the season.
Western Kentucky earned its runs in the third and sixth innings. After leading off the former inning with back-to-back singles, the Lady Toppers took consecutive walks to push across the game's first run. They added another on a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield in the next at-bat before Taylor got herself out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts.
After two quick outs in the sixth, WKU extended the inning when catcher Sara Williams took an inside pitch off her arm to earn first base. Third baseman Amanda Walden made Michigan pay for the baserunner, ripping a screamer down the rightfield line to score Williams from first base. The throw home arrived simultaneously, but Williams slid to just barely beat the tag at the plate.
The Wolverines failed to convert on several scoring opportunities throughout the contest and left 10 runners stranded, including three apiece in the first and fifth innings. Doyle led off the latter inning with an infield single to third base and advanced a base on an errant throw to first. Sappingfield sent a looping single into shallow centerfield, and senior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) accepted a five-pitch walk to load the bases, but WKU got the lead runner on a fielder's choice before setting down Lane swinging for the inning's final out.
The Wolverines will head west next week (Thursday through Saturday, March 17-19) for the annual Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif. Michigan will open play Thursday against Arizona State (1 p.m. PDT) and host Cal State Fullerton (7:30 p.m. PDT) at the Titan Softball Complex.
N O T E S
With today's outcomes, Michigan is now15-1 in the all-time series against Louisville and 2-1 in the all-time series against Western Kentucky.
Michigan's 24-game winning streak marked the best season start in Wolverine program history. Prior to 2011, U-M's best start came in 1981 when it went 7-0.
Freshman leftfielder Nicole Sappingfield saw her hit streak end at 20 games with her 0-for-3 showing against Louisville. Over the 20-game stretch, Sappingfield batted .441 (30-for-68) with 15 runs scored and 15 RBI. It was the longest recorded hit streak in Michigan softball history.
Adding freshman Lyndsay Doyle's first collegiate RBI in the Louisville game, 14 Wolverine players have recorded at least one RBI this season.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On the loss to Western Kentucky ... "Some days the game is hard, and I thought it was hard for us all weekend. We gave them runs -- we walked them, we hit them -- but the bottom line is our offense didn't come through and give us any support. Jordan (Taylor) isn't going to be perfect every game. We just didn't have our A game today on either side of the ball. I don't think our approach was good today. You can't react to losing as something good or bad; you have to stay even-keeled. I thought we did that for the most part. We had a case of our veterans trying way too hard, and as you can see, the young kids picked us up in that second game. They made that happen. We just need to keep building as a team. It's going to take all of us, and it did today to pull out a victory."
On preparing for next weekend's Judi Garman Classic ... "We just need to compete. It's not about the other teams. We can't start defining ourselves by who we're playing. We haven't done that yet, and if they start doing it now, they can expect to have a hard time. We just need to play the game and enjoy competing. It's going to be good competition, and I would think they'd be excited about it."
U-M Sophomore Second Baseman Ashley Lane
On the weekend performance ... "This whole weekend was a test for us, coming back from a long spring break and then heading down here. It was a struggle for us, and we seemed tired. But we pushed through. We came up short in that first game, but we can learn something from it. We're not discouraged by the loss. It was going to happen. That's the game. We just didn't seize our opportunities."
U-M Freshman Rightfielder Lyndsay Doyle
On starting to come on during her rookie season ... "Every opportunity I get, I just take it for what it's worth and try to get better with every at-bat. Every ball I get in the outfield, I'm working to get better. That's all I'm trying to do and help team as much as I can."
On how the team can rebound from a loss ... "We just need to continue playing one-pitch softball, as Hutch always says, and stay in our moment. When that's your focus, you get better every pitch. We want to work together as a team and pick each other up. It was a tough day today, but we worked through it."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423