March 24, 2010
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Wilpon Softball Complex)
Score: #2 Michigan 10, Bowling Green 2 (5 inn.)
Records: U-M (23-5), Bowling Green (4-10)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, March 27 -- vs. Illinois (Wilpon Softball Complex), 2 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz (St. Clair Shores, Mich./Regina HS) paced the No. 2- ranked University of Michigan softball team from the circle and the plate en route to a 10-2, five-inning win over Bowling Green in its home opener on Wednesday afternoon (March 24) in front 1,145 fans at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field.
The Wolverine hurler earned her 10th win of the season in strong fashion, fanning nine Falcon batters while giving up four hits and one walk to claim her eighth consecutive victory. Nemitz allowed a Bowling Green base runner in just two innings and struck out the side in the first and second frames. On the offensive side of the ball, she was 2-for-3 on the afternoon, recording her second collegiate grand slam and a four runs batted in. Her fifth-inning bomb came as part of a seven-run frame and gave Michigan the necessary run-rule margin to bring an immediate end to the contest.
Senior rightfielder Angela Findlay (Lockport, Ill./East HS) registered a career-best four hits, adding three runs scored and an RBI, to maintain her torrid pace at the plate, while sophomore second baseman Amanda Chidester (Allen Park, Mich./Cabrini HS) also posted a multi-hit effort -- her sixth of the season -- with a 2-for-3 showing with a run scored and an RBI.
Findlay roped a leadoff double into the right centerfield gap to initiate the Wolverines' surge in the fifth. The Wolverine captain advanced to third on a flyout before trotting home when senior catcher Roya St. Clair (Livonia, Mich./Stevenson HS) lined a comebacker off Bowling Green starting pitcher Melissa Bott. After a couple practice pitches, Bott issued a five-pitch walk and a Chidester base-hit blooper into shallow centerfield and was removed in favor of Zada Lines.
The Falcon reliever fared no better as Nemitz connected with the second pitch, hammering it out of the park in deep centerfield and banking it off the baseball field's fence for her fourth home run of the season. Lines walked the bases loaded on just 14 pitches before Findlay sent a hard, low chopper past the extended glove of the third baseman and senior third baseman Maggie Viefhaus (Eureka, Mo./Eureka HS) accepted a full-count walk to bring home the game-ending tally.
The Wolverines also struck early in the contest, claiming their first and final lead with a pair of runs in the bottom of the opening inning. Findlay lofted a single into centerfield and moved into scoring position when the ball dribbled through the legs of Falcon centerfielder Lindsay Arney. Viefhaus sent her home in the next at-bat, drilling an RBI double -- her fourth two-bagger of the season -- over the head of BGSU leftfielder Karmen Coffey and to the warning track. Junior first baseman Dorian Shaw (Burke, Va./Robinson SS) registered an RBI double of her own two batters later, smacking a rocket liner off the wall down the rightfield line.
Findlay teamed up with Chidester to drive in another run in the home half of the third. With Findlay occupying second base after a leadoff single and subsequent steal, Chidester sailed an RBI double into centerfield.
Three of Bowling Green's four hits came in the top of the fourth. First baseman Paige Berger kicked off the rally with one down, lofting a base hit into rightfield before second baseman Andrea Arney got ahold of the 1-2 pitch and drove deep into the visitor's bullpen beyond the leftfield fence. After a quick out, the Falcons added another base hit to leftfield before Nemitz got herself out of the inning with a three-pitch strikeout to Bott.
The Wolverines will kick off the Big Ten Conference portion of their 2010 schedule this weekend, hosting Illinois for a two-game series on Saturday and Sunday (March 27-28). Both games are slated for a 2 p.m. start at the Wilpon Softball Complex, home of Alumni Field.
With today's win, Michigan improved to 28-5 in the all-time series against Bowling Green.
The Wolverines own a 20-game winning streak at Alumni Field. U-M has not lost at home since day two of the 2008 NCAA Super Regional against Virginia Tech on May 25, 2008.
Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz's grand slam was Michigan's fourth of the season and the second of her career. Her previous grand slam came against intrastate rival Michigan State on April 25, 2008, in the Wilpon Softball Complex dedication game.
Senior rightfielder Angela Findlay is the second Wolverine player to tally four hits in a game this season. Senior catcher Roya St. Clair achieved the feat two weeks ago at Louisville (March 13). Findlay had previously registered four on one occasion -- in the first game of a twinbill at Purdue on March 30, 2008.
Today's home opener featured three new amenities to the Wilpon Softball Complex -- a video scoreboard, a 1,200-seat outfield grandstand and blue padding along the outfield fence.
Q U O T E S
Michigan Head Coach Carol Hutchins
On Michigan's home opener ... "It feels so weird to be at home. The first home game is always kind of out of the ordinary, because you've been on the road so long. It's so odd to walk on your own field and actually play a game. I think it's hard to do. That's why I always schedule a non-conference game prior to the conference opener, because it's a huge adjustment, as weird as that sounds. [The players] want to do well at home. They've got friends and family here. So definitely, we often come out and don't play very well in our home opener. I don't think that we didn't play well, but we certainly weren't clicking the first few innings."
On Michigan's offensive production ... "We had been hitting the ball hard, but we had been just a little out in front of a lot of hits. It was bound to happen. We were getting a hold of some, but we just needed to put some together. And you know when Nikki [Nemitz] hits it all the way over the fence with runners on base, you're going to get a lot of runs."
On senior rightfielder Angela Findlay ... "That's her nickname -- rock solid. I always call her my blue-collar player. She's been a blue-collar player since the day she got here. She just comes to play every day, and she works hard. Whether she has good at-bats or bad at-bats, she just comes back every time and digs in and does whatever we ask her to do. She told me when we recruited her, 'I've lived in Sam's shadow. I'm my own person. I'm not coming here because of Sam; I'm coming to Michigan because I want to go to Michigan.' And she has been her own person ever since I've known her. She got a new bat this year, and she's swinging it. She's got that great confidence that you have with a four-year veteran. She's our leader, and she knows it and I just cannot say enough about her."
U-M Senior LHP Nikki Nemitz
On playing in front of a home crown at Alumni Field ... "It was awesome. I've been watching them build this stadium for two years now, and it's nice to have it finally done. It's great to play on it and be back with our fans who love us and come out every game. I saw a lot of familiar faces. It's so exciting that our home season has finally started, and we get to see all our fans again. It's relaxing and comfortable, because you're in your own setting and surroundings. It's such a great atmosphere."
On her grand slam ... "Every hit is awesome. I got my pitch, and it felt perfect off the bat. I was seeing it well, and I was confident. It's always a nice feeling to hit it hard and hit it over the fence anyway. That time, there just happened to be three of my teammates on base. I can't really hit a grand slam without my team."
On the Wolverines' propensity for big innings late ... "I hope we can start playing from ahead more often. In every game that we've started slow or have been behind, you never feel like our team is losing or down, especially in this game. Nobody was nervous or worried about losing. We were each just focused on our next at-bat and planning to hit it hard. Our team has that mindset, and I think if we look forward, that's going to be what helps us. That's why we have those breakout innings; everyone just figures that out together."
On her recent surge at the plate ... "I feel confident. I can tell what I'm doing right and what I'm doing wrong. That's what I was struggling with in the beginning. I was doing 100 things wrong, and every at-bat was completely different. I just needed to go back and get to the fundamentals. Once I had my mindset and one-pitch focus, I felt confident again. It was more of a confidence boost to get going for me."
On translating her confidence at the plate to pitching ... "I haven't had the strongest year on the mound, but I know that my team is hitting well and they're playing great defense. All I need to do is keep people off base. If I'm having a bad inning, I can shake it off a lot easier because it's not all resting on my shoulders. We can score runs, and that's really reassuring as a pitcher."
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423