Offensive Explosion Gives Michigan Victories Over UNLV, Utah

March 19, 2010

• Boxscores: Game 1 | Game 2

Site: Fullerton, Calif. (Titan Softball Complex)
Event: Judi Garman Classic
Scores: #4 Michigan 14, UNLV 13; #4 Michigan 15, Utah 1 (5 inn.)
Records: U-M (21-4), UNLV (18-10), Utah (11-12)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, March 20 -- vs. Texas (Fullerton, Calif.), 11:15 a.m. PDT; vs. DePaul (Fullerton, Calif.), 1:30 PDT

FULLERTON, Calif. -- The No. 4-ranked University of Michigan softball team won a pair of wild ones on day two of the annual Judi Garman Classic on Friday (March 19), battling to a 14-13 win over UNLV and cruising past Utah, 15-1, in five innings at Cal State Fullerton's Titan Softball Complex. The victories pushed U-M's winning streak to 13 straight games.

The Wolverines were explosive from the plate all day, combining for 29 total runs and a .415 team average. Ten different Michigan players tallied at least one hit, while six Wolverines registered a home run. Sophomore shortstop Stephanie Kirkpatrick (Plainfield, Ill./Central HS) paced the Wolverines on offense, going 5-for-7 with three runs batted in, including a career-best three-hit performance against UNLV. Sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) also recorded five hits on the afternoon, including three against Utah, and posted four RBI.

Among Michigan's home-run hitters, senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo./Eureka HS) knocked out two on the day -- upping her season total to eight -- while senior pinch hitter Kristin Larsen (Orion, Mich./Lake Orion HS) collected her first collegiate hit -- a grand slam -- in the fourth inning of the Utah slate.

Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS) earned both decisions, striking out 14 while giving up nine hits, four walks and 10 runs -- just four earned -- through 10.2 innings pitched. The effort improved her season record to 8-3.

Michigan scored in five different innings against UNLV and used big numbers in the first and fifth frames to first gain a sizable lead and then bounce back from a five-run deficit. The Wolverines largely took advantage of Rebel pitching miscues to score six in the top of the opening frame, using four walks, six illegal pitches and a three-run homer from junior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) to take control.

UNLV responded with four runs in the home half of the first, using five hits and a pair of walks to manufacture the scores, and seven runs in the third -- on three home runs -- to steal away the lead. Michigan squeezed a run in between the Rebel rallies on a solo homer by Chidester.

While Kirkpatrick helped U-M chip away with a run-scoring single up the middle in the fourth, UNLV again responded, scoring two runs in the home half, before the Wolverines evened the score with a five-run fifth inning. After back-to-back singles from sophomore leftfielder Bree Evans (Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS) and senior rightfielder Angela Findlay (Lockport, Ill./East HS) to lead off, Viefhaus smacked an RBI double into rightfield to initiate the rally. Chidester drove a two-run single into centerfield two batters later and, after Nemitz lofted a sacrifice fly into leftfield, Kirkpatrick knocked in the tying run on a base hit into left.

Viefhaus drove home the winning run with two down and nobody on base in the sixth, taking the 2-0 pitch and sailing it over the fence in deep centerfield. With the Wolverines back in front, Nemitz made little work of the remaining six UNLV batters she faced, striking out the side in the sixth and needing just 12 pitches to set them down in order in the seventh.

It was Michigan that got hit with illegal-pitch calls in the Utah game as junior RHP Jordan Taylor (Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) was chased from the game after a leadoff walk, two hit batters and three illegal pitches, resulting in the Utes' lone run of the contest.

The Wolverines scored runs in each of the opening four frames, including a season-high eight in the fourth inning to bring an early end to the contest. Michigan scored two in the top of the first to garner the only advantage it needed. Senior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) drove in the game's first tally on an infield groundout, and Findlay also scored on the play, unearned, on an overthrow to first base.

Nemitz drove in two runs apiece in the second and third innings, first on a two-run shot over the fence in right centerfield -- her third home run of the season -- then on a two-out, two-run single through the right side gap in the latter frame.

Michigan padded its advantage into run-rule territory with a homer-heavy fourth inning. After a quick out, Findlay and Viefhaus tallied back-to-back solo shots to opposite fields. Five consecutive base hits loaded the bases for Larsen, who connected with the 2-1 pitch and bombed it high over the leftfield fence. The grand slam was Michigan's third of the season and concluded the game's scoring.

The Wolverines will wrap up play at the annual Judi Garman Classic tomorrow (Saturday, March 20) in Fullerton, Calif. U-M will face No. 15-ranked Texas (11:15 a.m. PDT) and DePaul (1:30 p.m. PDT) at the Titan Softball Complex.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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